Take Tea To New Heights

Tea is a versatile beverage that can be served at any time of day and has long been touted for its medicinal properties. On a cold day, a hot cup of tea can be just what people need to warm up, while few things are more refreshing than a glass of iced tea on a hot afternoon.

While tea lovers are familiar with its versatility, even the most ardent tea enthusiast might not think it can be used to make ice cream. But that’s precisely the case in the following recipe for “Chai Ice Cream” from Robert Wemischner and Diana Rosen’s “Cooking with Tea” (Periplus). Not overly sweet, this ice cream works great when stuffed into a sweet-ripe peach or plum.

Chai Ice Cream
Serves 6

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
4 slices fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
12 whole green cardamom pods
3 whole cinnamon sticks, each about 3 inches long
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons Chinese black tea, such as Keemun
4 egg yolks
1 large bowl of rice
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the cream and milk to a boil with the spices, sugar and honey. Add the tea and reduce mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat and infuse the tea for about 5 minutes. Sieve out solids and return liquid to saucepan.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and temper them by combining with a cup of the cream mixture. Add the whisked egg yolks to the saucepan and whisk together over medium heat until slightly thickened. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon Using an instant-read thermometer, monitor the temperature of the mixture so it does not exceed 190 F. Do not overcook or the mixture will curdle.

Pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl placed over a larger bowl of ice. Stir the mixture until cool and then place in refrigerator or freezer to chill further, about 15 minutes. Add salt and vanilla to blend.

Freeze using an old-fashioned ice cream maker filled with ice and salt, or freeze in a crank-type ice cream machine using a canister that has been frozen as per the manufacturer’s directions.

This recipe is exquisite alone, but even more delicious over poached Bosc pears (see photo).

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