I love chai. Spicy and aromatic, it’s perfect for snuggling up with a good book on a cool evening. The smell of chai makes me think of my grandma. Even though she’s first generation Swedish-American, the distinctive smell of cardamom always reminds me of her. Cardamom is a key ingredient in chai, and also a staple in Scandinavian kitchens.
Chai’s spicy flavor lends itself well to baking, and while I’ve used Earl Grey in baking before, I’d never tried chai. I also love French pastry, and desserts like crème brulée and pot de crème. Pot de crème is similar to custard, where flavored cream is added to egg yolks. Aromatic chai and silky pot de crème sounded like a delicious experiment.
I started by steeping teabags of chai in hot cream. My research indicated the most popular method is to steep loose tea and later strain the cream, but I didn’t have any loose tea, nor the patience to strain cream. I should also note that this recipe makes 4 servings, but I almost always make a half batch. With only two people in our family, it’s too tempting to eat the other servings!
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup whole milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 teabags of Chai (or loose tea equivalent)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat cream in a small sauce pan. Bring cream to boil, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- Dissolve sugar in hot cream and remove from heat.
- Add chai and cover, allowing tea to steep for 20 minutes.
- While your flavored cream steeps, whisk egg yolks in a small bowl.
- Once 20 minutes have elapsed, slowly pour cream mixture into egg yolks, whisking as you pour. This will prevent your eggs from scrambling! Whisk until cream is well incorporated and mixture is smooth.
- Add vanilla and spices (if desired) and stir.
- Pour into 4 ramekins (or another oven safe glass).
- Set ramekins in a baking dish and add hot water to the dish. The amount of water required varies based on the size of your ramekins or dishes. The water bath should rise about halfway up your ramekins.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the pot de crème on the sides are set, but still quiver in the center. Cool completely, and then refrigerate until chilled. I usually make pot de crème the night before. If refrigerating for more than an hour, cover with plastic wrap or place in a covered baking dish.
- Enjoy your chai pot de crème with good company, and maybe a good book!
Recipe inspired by The View from Great Island