I promised more recipes with tea in them, didn’t I?
This recipe was created out of a need to use up egg yolks. I’m always ending up with extra yolks, because I like making meringue so much. And my standard cupcake recipe only has whites in it.
Even though I love homemade ice cream, I know I can’t make it as nice as I could if I had an ice cream maker. So I decided to stop short and just make a custard.
I have no idea where I got the idea to make a chai-flavored custard. I just know that once I had the idea, there was no turning back. And I had to add vanilla bean. Just because chai is always better with vanilla.
Just like there was no turning back once I dipped the spoon into the little teacup.
I preferred this custard hot, though, just like the tea itself, it’s equally delicious cold. Just keep in mind that it will want to form a skin very quickly as it cools, so if you’ll be serving it cold you should cover it with plastic like you would for a curd.
Vanilla Chai Custard
2 cups whole milk
1 whole star anise
6-8 whole cloves
6-8 allspice berries
1 small cinnamon stick (about 4″ long)
6-8 white peppercorns
1-2 crushed green cardamom pods
1 small vanilla bean (I used a small, about 4″ Tahitian bean)
2-3 Tbsp looseleaf English Breakfast tea
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch fine salt
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Place the milk, spices and tea in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds and add the seeds and pod to the milk. Heat to a boil over medium heat. Remove immediately once it comes to a low boil. Allow the milk to steep in the tea and spices for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk until no lumps remain. With a large slotted spoon, remove the cinnamon stick, vanilla pod and as much tea and whole spice as you can from the milk, then pour it into the yolk mixture by fourths, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Whisk in the salt, strain into a clean medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the custard thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter. If serving hot, pour into individual teacups and serve immediately. If serving cold, pour into a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed down onto the surface, with holes poked into it to allow steam to escape. Chill at least 2 hours in the fridge.
This would make a great fall dessert, for a somewhat fancy Thanksgiving dinner or a sit-down Halloween meal. But it’s just as good now in the spring, because chai is delicious any time of year. You could serve it cold as the ending to a casual spring or summer meal, or as a treat to a group of tea-loving friends. Basically, this is delicious, and you should make it.