It’s funny how seemingly ‘fatal’ kitchen mistakes can turn into wonderful inventions. What’s perhaps even stranger about this particular ‘mistake’ is that it wasn’t due to my muddle-headedness! My friend and I had been assigned to prepare desserts for our restaurant service at college. As an accompaniment to the date and walnut puddings that we were required to make we decided to experiment with a Chai flavoured ice cream. Alas, an hour into the session the campus was evacuated due to a power shortage. The evacuation morphed into a two-hour lock-out from the kitchens, so by the time we were able to continue our work there was little over an hour until service. Most definitely not enough time to produce and anglaise sauce and churn it into ice cream! A little glum that our ‘genius’ invention would not come to fruition we simply produced the chai flavoured custard and left it at that. Having been so focussed on the idea of ice cream we were shocked that on tasting the custard we had to resist the urge to inhale the remainder. It was goooood. Super good. Okay, that’s not particularly articulate, but it sums up the way that all words evaded me with that first spoonful. If you don’t like Chai then obviously this isn’t the dessert for you, but if you do, imagine a super thick and creamy chai latte. That you can slurp up with a spoon.
Making crème anglaise is a little more complex than your standard box-mix custard, but well worth it. The main point of care to remember is to remove it from the heat as soon as it coats the back of a spoon. You do not want chai spiced scrambled eggs! The brown sugar does give the custard an unappealing brown colour and if you are mindful of aesthetics, then substitute it for caster sugar instead.
It’s the perfect way to use up left over egg yolks, or you know, an excuse to make a batch of meringues too. Hmmm, chai spiced meringues…I wonder what they would taste like?
Chai Spiced Custard
Serves 2-4 as accompaniment to fruit/sponge cake etc.
4 green cardamom pods
3 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon quill
1 sliver fresh ginger
1 black tea bag
15g brown sugar
2 egg yolks
Tip milk, spices and tea bag into a small pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and let steep at least 30 minutes.
Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl.
Strain milk and return to pot over a low heat. Once boiling, pour little-by-little over the egg mixture, whisking rapidly. Once milk is incorporated into egg mixture, return to pot and put back over a low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens.
Test by dipping a teaspoon into the custard and running your finger down the centre of the back of the spoon. If a line stays then the custard is cooked.
As soon as it is cooked, quickly strain into a clean bowl or jug.
Chill over a bowl of ice or serve immediately.
Source: Chai flavouring inspired by Wholefoods Market