Recipe blog: Masala chai ice cream

This is not a workout blog! It is half recipe and half process documentation– I always forget and wind up using twice the dishes I need to, moving ingredients around when I forget to do something in the right size container.

This uses Jeni’s ice cream base, which is not an egg yolk custard. I guess you could modify it to use an egg yolk custard, but I think they’re fussy and I like the nice milk flavor of an eggless custard. The corn starch is in there to thicken the custard, and the corn syrup is to help keep a smooth, scoopable texture when it freezes. I don’t fear corn starch or corn syrup! They do food magic.

Ice cream base ingredients:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 14 cups heavy cream
  • 23 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 14 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
Masala chai spices and tea (modify to taste, if desired):
  • 1″ fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 tsp whole green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp whole coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp whole allspice
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 tbsp good black tea leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water

Grind whole spices except for star anise in a spice grinder/coffee grinder. Put water into a pot; add the ground spices and ginger and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Grind the star anise coarsely and add to mixture.  (It’s a controversial ingredient in my house, so I tried to keep it from infusing too strongly.) Add 1 cup of milk, the cinnamon, and the tea leaves. Boil for another 10 minutes, stirring. Turn off heat and strain mixture through a fine strainer, pressing to extract all the liquid. Ideally you should get about 1 cup of concentrated masala chai (the water should get boiled off). A little more isn’t the end of the world, a little less is fine. It should taste strongly of tea and spices.

In a 2-cup pyrex bowl, mix 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch to make a slurry. Don’t worry about stirring too well now, you’re going to have to re-suspend it later. Put the cream cheese into a LARGE pyrex bowl– at least 1.5 quart– and microwave it for 30 seconds to soften, then whip with a fork until smooth. In a heavy pot, combine the masala chai concentrate, the other 3/4 cup milk, the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and salt, and bring to a strong boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Boil for ~4 minutes, stirring. (The idea is to boil off some water from the mixture, which is why having more concentrated tea stuff is fine.) Re-suspend the cornstarch slurry and whisk into the boiling ingredients and continue to boil, whisking, for 2 minutes, to thicken. Turn off heat. Take a ladleful of the boiling milk mixture and add it to the cream cheese bowl, and whisk until there are no lumps. Add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking, until it’s all combined and smooth.

If you have time, you can put this bowl in the fridge and let it cool on its own, overnight. If you need to make the ice cream sooner, get a friend with a rubber spatula to help you get the hot mixture from the bowl into a gallon ziplock bag, and immerse that in a bowl of ice and water to cool it. Once it’s cool, process according to your ice cream maker directions and freeze overnight to cure.

Makes about 1 quart.

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