masala chai ice cream

masala chai ice cream

A chai flavored ice cream post is way overdue here. For one, I love making frozen desserts and two, I'm a huge chai drinker. Actually, I drink some sort of tea every day, even if it isn't chai. Tea is calming and soothing and yes, delicious! There are so many things one can do with tea and with the wide array of flavors that keep coming out, I'm almost overwhelmed at times if I can even keep up. So instead of going too crazy, I'm sharing a simple and trusted way to make a chai ice cream.

chai prep

I infused the chai with the spices (masala), crushed green cardamom seeds and freshly grated ginger root. Of course, you can spice the chai with additional spices like I did in my Masala Chai Apple Cake but I added the masala (spices) to the chai just the way my mom does, her two special ingredients and nothing else. It made me a little nostalgic and brought back memories of drinking cups of hot tea while I dipped cookies into the fragrant hot milky brown liquid and watched my evening cartoon shows on the Cartoon Network. These days things are a little different, I normally just drink the tea and do the cookie thing occasionally, still watch tv, no cartoons though.

chai ice cream

I've adapted the basic ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Also, just a little note here, I normally don't make chai with that much tea leaves in that small volume of water, I was going for a more concentrated flavor and did a reduction because the flavors and taste would ultimately get balanced and diluted out by the ice cream base. 

masala chai ice cream ginger cardamom

Here are some of my favorite posts that I drooled over this week,
  • Kimberly of The Year in Food made some amazing Cajun-spiced Sweet Potato Burgers that I need to make soon. 
  • Jennifer of Savory Simple made the most picture perfect fan-shaped gyoza stuffed with mushrooms. 
  • Marta of What Should I Eat for Breakfast made these killer green sandwiches that are topped with greens, pine nuts, cheese and poached eggs. How can you say no to that!  
  • Ashlae of Oh Ladycakes has quickly become one of my favorite vegan bakers, her dreamy raw citrus cakes are self-explanatory.
masala chai tea ice cream

masala chai ice cream

yields: 1 generous quart

ingredients

3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons black tea leaves (Darjeeling tea - I specifically used orange pekoe) 
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons
1 1/4 cup half and half
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher sea salt
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese

1. Add the water, cardamom and grated ginger to a small saucepan and bring to a boil on a medium-high flame. When the water begins to boil, add the tea leaves and reduce the flame to medium-low. Allow the water to boil for another 2 minutes, remove from stove and strain the liquid to remove the solids. Transfer the tea liquid back into the saucepan and reduce the volume to a little less than 1/4 cup by boiling the liquid on a medium-high flame. Remove the liquid from the stove and keep aside until ready to use.
2. Mix the cornstarch with the two tablespoons of milk to form a slurry and keep aside until ready to use. In a large thick bottomed saucepan, add the reduced 1/4 cup of tea from step 1, the 2 cups of milk, half and half, sugar and honey and heat on a medium-high flame. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes with stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer and quickly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the hot liquid.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook with constant stirring until the mixture thickens, this will take approximately 1 minute.
3. Place the sea salt and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl and whisk lightly until smooth. Add a little bit of the hot milk liquid from the saucepan and whisk lightly until smooth. Add the rest of the hot milk and whisk until the ice cream base is completely smooth. 
4. Transfer the hot liquid into a 1-gallon ziploc freezer bag, seal airtight and place in an ice cold water bath. Allow to chill for 30 minutes or until ice cold. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn the ice cream for about 30 minutes or until the ice cream has come together and begins to come off from the sides of the canister. (Alternatively, follow the instructions of your particular brand of ice cream maker).  Transfer the frozen ice cream into a freezer safe container and layer the top of the ice cream with a piece of parchment paper, press gently to remove any trapped air bubbles and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.

chocolate chili frozen yogurt

frozen chocolate chili yogurt

I did a bunch of crazy things last weekend that included attending a "Winter Tops and Summer Shorts" theme party. That's right sweaters and shorts during the season of the polar vortex, it was an absolutely insane idea by my friend Alex but also one of the funnest parties, I've been to in a while.

frozen chocolate with chili yogurt

I figured if that can happen, frozen sweet foods can happen too and should. So here I am with a delicious rich and creamy chocolate yogurt recipe that has chili in it to keep you warm. I used a dried ancho chili powder which is basically a dried up poblano pepper. The dash of chili adds a hint of smoky sweetness to the dark chocolate which really enhanced the flavors. 

serving frozen chocolate chili yogurt

I adapted and modified the basic frozen yogurt recipe from my all time favorite frozen dessert cookbook, 

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

frozen chili chocolate yogurt

chocolate and chili frozen yogurt

yields:

1 generous quart

ingredients 

1 quart (32 ounces) plain low-fat greek yogurt

2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour)

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa 

1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1/4 cup light corn syrup (I use fructose free light corn syrup which is a glucose solution and does not contain fructose but you could use glucose as well)

2/3 cup (5 1/4 ounces) raw brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place the yogurt in a sieve lined with two layers of clean cheese cloth or muslin. Allow the yogurt to drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator. You will get about 3/4 cup of liquid. Discard the liquid and  keep the yogurt aside (or you can add to baked goods for a little extra nutrition).

2. Whisk the two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to form a slurry and keep aside.

3. Place the cream cheese in a large glass mixing bowl.

4. In a thick bottomed saucepan, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of milk, heavy cream, cocoa, chili, corn syrup and sugar. Bring the contents to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the cornstarch-milk slurry.

5. Place the saucepan on the stove and bring it back to a boil on medium-high heat and cook for 1 minute until slightly thickened. 

6. Gradually add a little bit of the hot liquid from the saucepan into the glass mixing bowl containing the cream cheese. Whisk until completely smooth. Add the rest of the hot liquid and vanilla and whisk until the contents are completely blended. Mix in the strained yogurt from step 1. (You can also pass this liquid through a sieve to make sure any clumps or lumps are removed). 

7. Transfer the yogurt mixture to a gallon ziploc freezer bag. Seal the bag and place in an ice water bath and cool for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 40F. 

8. Pour the liquid into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and churn until the liquid becomes thick and creamy. (Alternatively, follow the instructions written in the manual of your ice cream maker for brand specific instructions). 

9. Pack the frozen yogurt into a freezer-safe storage container with an airtight lid. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper and press gently to remove any trapped air. Seal the container with the lid and freeze the yogurt for 4 hours or until firm before serving.

hot chocolate with cinnamon and whisky

cinnamon spiced hot chocolate with whisky

What would the winter holiday season be without a cup of rich hot chocolate! There's something comforting when you sip into a cup of steaming hot and sinfully indulgent rich chocolate merged into creamy milk. This hot chocolate is decadent and every bit indulgent with the goodness of dark chocolate, the warmth of freshly ground cinnamon and a dash of whisky.

Christmas tree

Whisky is another flavor that I love to use as an ingredient during the holidays. It infuses an extra level of warmth and richness to foods and I find it excellent when added to barbecues, desserts and sweet cocktails. So yes, I added some whisky in here! Chocolate and whisky with cinnamon, it's the perfect combination of rich, earthy rustic flavors. The whisky here is just the right amount to give it flavor without being boozy. If whisky isn't your thing, you can leave it out. 

hot chocolate with marshmallows

Have fun with the garnishes, it's the holidays treat yourself a little! 

peppermint hot chocolate with cinnamon and whisky

hot chocolate with cinnamon and whisky

yields : 4 servings

ingredients

4 cups whole milk
1 cup (5 3/4 ounces) dark chocolate chips, unsweetened
1 cup (6 1/8 ounces) milk chocolate chips, sweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground + a little extra for dusting
1/4 cup whisky
a  few marshmallows for garnishing (optional)
4 peppermint sticks (optional)

1. Place the milk in a thick bottomed saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium-low flame until the milk begins to steam with constant stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer.
2. Add the chocolate and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the hot milk and whisk constantly by hand until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the milk from the stove and mix in the whisky.
3. Pour the hot chocolate into serving mugs and top them off with a few marshmallows and dust with the extra ground cinnamon. Serve with the hot chocolate with the peppermint sticks and extra marshmallows on the side.

avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

Avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

A couple of weekends ago we did something crazy, we went out and bought a power boat. After an endless wait of two weeks (which isn't that long but we are both terribly impatient), the boat was finally delivered to D.C. late last week and of course, we spent every day of the entire weekend taking it out on the Potomac. As a kid, I'd been on the ocean on a few ships and a fishing boat once but this was much different. Fresh waters are so different from the sea and it smells less too which is nice, though I would not mind the ocean one bit! Snoopy is still adjusting and we hope that eventually (more like sooner) we can stop carrying him on and off the boat as he is too scared to make the jump himself and believe me carrying 45lbs on and off a boat after a few days is tiresome! On day one he whined a bit which I assumed to be his getting acclimated to an unfamiliar rocking motion on the boat (while we were docked), however by day two, he barked to say hi to every person that passed by. He enjoys the speed of the boat once it picks up and likes to stretch his head out to sniff the air and catch the wind. Snoopy is still struggling with the existence of some of the wildlife such as the flying herons and the swimming ducks and I think he will soon come to terms with it. He likes to do things at his own pace. Our dog runs our life, house, and now the boat!

boat

I'm curious to learn fishing but for now one license at a time is good, first I need to get my boating license so I can learn to drive. It is interesting to see how the waters get so busy here but I enjoy the people watching part while they boat and kayak their way through. More than anything, I am really looking forward to docking in Old Town Alexandria and eating out at some of the waterfront restaurants. 

Snoopy on the boat

I've been trying to do better this year by consuming a few avocados a week to gain some healthy fat in my diet. Consequently, avocados were bound to make their way into my food and they did just that by occupying a spot in these delicious dark chocolate madeleines. This was my first time baking madeleines as well as using avocados as a butter substitute. Everything turned out delicious and I was excited to use my madeleine baking pan that I found at an antique store in North Carolina a few months back. To stick with theme of using less fat, I sprayed the pan's molds with a light neutral cooking spray oil which worked out perfectly, instead of greasing it the traditional way with butter. Make sure you use a soft and ripe avocado and puree it to complete smoothness to avoid any fibrous textures or clumps of avocado meat. Since the traditional technique to prepare madeleines involves the use of melted butter, I warmed up the avocado puree in a water-bath to help solubilize some of the fat. Another tip while working with the batter, spoon it in and spread it a little to fill the mold, it will rise during baking and puff up well. 

butter-free madelines1

Overall the entire weekend was a set of first firsts for me and each one of these experiences from boating to my baking experiments. I've realized that I am always happy when I bake!

madeline pan and avocado1

avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

yields: 16-18 large madeleines

ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached cake flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a little confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. 
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and keep aside. 
3. Mash and puree the avocado to get a smooth paste (you can use a food processor for this). Seal the puree with cling film in a glass bowl and place the bowl with the puree in a warm-water bath at 70C till use (this helps to melt out some of the fat and make it smoother).
4. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs for 5 minutes on medium speed until light and foamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk for an additional 5 minutes on medium-high speed until thick and creamy. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand mixer. 
5. Sift the flour-cocoa mixture into the whisked eggs and carefully fold the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula using a circular motion. Fold the pre-warmed avocado puree into the batter. 
6. Generously coat a madeleine baking pan with a neutral cooking oil spray. Spoon and spread out the cake batter into the molds. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The madeleines are baked and ready to be removed when the center is firm and springs back when pressed with the fingers. Remove the madeleines from the tray and allow them to cool on a wire rack. You can store them in an airtight container.
7. Before serving, dust the madeleines with a little confectioner's sugar using a sieve.