Chai Gelato

With Autumn just around the corner my thoughts move to the deep rich flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, anise and cloves.  I adore a good cup of Chai Tea lightly sweetened, with a generous amount of milk; and the aroma alone is worth making a steaming cup – hummmmm.  Since it’s going to be in the 90’s today with highs in the 70’s later this week, why not blend summer and autumn into a truly wonderful Chai Gelato?  

Working with fresh whole spices can make a good recipe into a great dessert.  Vanilla bean, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, peppercorns and fresh ginger – a combination that is practically irresistible!
Add the spices, fresh sliced ginger and black tea bags to whole milk.  Heat the mixture then steep for 30 minutes to extract all those flavors!
I served the Chai Gelato with Pizzelles, an Italian wafer cookie also flavored with anise.  A perfect combination!

Do you like Chai lattes?  I can’t say I’ve had more than a few in my life, but for those faithful latte enthusiasts, this is what you’re looking for!

Chai Gelato
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
8 cloves, whole
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
6 black English Breakfast Tea Bags
2 star anise, whole
6 black peppercorns, whole
Add the milk to a heavy bottom, medium saucepan.  Add 3/4 cup of the sugar, salt, vanilla bean (seeds scraped), cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, ginger, star anise, peppercorns and tea bags to the milk.  Warm over medium heat until the mixture reaches 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Do not boil.  Once it reaches 170 degrees, cover and remove from the heat.  Steep for 30 minutes.
While the tea and milk are steeping, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the 5 egg yolks until the mixture is pale and slightly thickened.  Set aside.
Place a large glass or metal pan inside another larger bowl filled with ice.  Add the heavy (or whipping) cream to the bowl set in the ice bath.  Place a fine mesh sieve over the cream and set aside.
After the tea and milk mixture has steeped for 30 minutes, strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the whole spices and tea bags.  Gently press the tea bags to release any milk trapped inside.  Discard the pods and tea bags.  Pour the Chai flavored milk back into the sauce pan and heat on medium to 170 degrees.  
Temper the eggs by slowly drizzling a little hot Chai milk into the eggs while whisking.  I like to add one small ladle full of hot milk at a time making sure to whisk constantly until adding the next spoonful.  By slowly increasing the temperature of the eggs you can prevent them from scrambling while cooking them to a safe temperature.
Once half the hot Chai milk has been added to the eggs, pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining Chai milk in the saucepan.  Heat on medium, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture reaches 185 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  
Remove from the heat and if the mixture is not smooth, emulsify with an immersion blender.  Pour the hot Chai/egg mixture through the fine mesh sieve into the cream set over the ice bath.  Stir occasionally while cooling, about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate the mixture for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Process according to the manufacturers directions for your ice cream maker.  Freeze the finished gelato for several hours before serving.  I like to keep a layer of plastic wrap pressed onto the gelato to prevent freezer burn.
Makes approximately 1 1/2 quarts
There you have it – a unique, earthy, spicy, sweet, creamy dessert unlike any other.  The addition of black tea really creates an incredible flavor.  You know what they say on the Food Network – “layers and layers of flavor!”  I love this time of year and can’t wait to see what you all have in your kitchen.  
Have a lovely week and thanks so much for stopping by!

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  1. says

    I love a cup of chai, also with milk and sometimes a bit of sugar. :) I have never tried blending the spices myself for tea or gelato. I am definitely going to try! The only thing I am missing is the star anise. I've often looked at it in the spice shop(its a very striking spice pod)but never knew what I would use it for. Luckily, I happen to be headed for a favorite spice shop in Chicago

  2. says

    You can use an egg free vanilla ice cream recipe as the base and proceed with the directions from warming the milk. When making egg free ice cream you don't need to cook the mixture but in this case steeping the t-bags and spices is necessary. If you have an ice cream maker, the booklet usually comes with some great recipes – choose one made without eggs and you are good to go!

  3. says

    Be. Still. My. Heart. THIS. I want THIS when I finally meet you in person. Holy heck, my mouth is watering just thinking about this combination. I adore a great chai latte and I love my espresso ice cream, so there is no doubt in my mind that a chai ice cream is meant to be. Thanks, Tricia!!!

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