You can make masala chai ice cream by infusing the milk for the custard base with your favourite spiced black tea or a mixture of looseleaf black tea and warm spices including cardamom, ginger, peppercorns, and cloves. Here’s a recipe for spiced chai ice cream to get you started with tea-infused ice cream!
With the success of my lemon custard ice cream (so refreshing), I decided to try to make another ice cream. My next flavour: spiced chai or masala chai ice cream. I love spiced chai. The combination of sweet, warm, sometimes floral spices with milk is so soothing.
Just a reminder that the word “chai” means tea, so saying chai tea is actually redundant. Did you know “chai” is the word for tea in many languages, including Arabic? The word “masala” is to indicate that the tea is spiced and made with a blend of spices, which vary, but often you will find cardamom, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, and/or fennel in most masala chai recipes.
For this spiced chai ice cream, I steeped the equivalent of two tea bags of spiced chai in the sweet milk. That’s roughly 2 to 3 tablespoons of tea. I used Smith Tea masala chai loose leaf tea. You can find their tea bags on Amazon. I also decided to add a little extra freshly ground cardamom because I’m a big fan of masala chai with lots of cardamom. If you can’t find masala chai loose leaf tea or bags, feel free to experiment with black tea and a mix of spices.
Infusing the custard base with black tea turned the ice cream to the colour of creamy milk tea, which is exactly what this ice cream tastes like. I have played around with the amount of sugar (between 125 mL and 190 mL or 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) and also the ratio of cream to milk. In the end, I prefer the ice cream made with more sugar and Don’t go below 125 mL (1/2 cup) of sugar for this ice cream recipe because there’s a risk the ice cream will freeze too hard or form larger ice crystals, which will ruin the texture.
Masala chai ice cream
- 310 mL (1¼ cups) whipping cream (35 % fat) divided
- 5 large egg yolks
- 150 grams (¾ cup) granulated sugar divided
- 440 mL (1¾ cups) whole milk (3.25 % fat)
- 30 mL (3 tbsp) spiced chai tea leaves or 2–3 tea bags of spiced chai tea for masala chai
- 20 cardamom pods shelled and ground with a mortar and pestle
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) fine kosher salt
- Freeze the ice cream drum in the freezer for at least 24 hours before attempting to make ice cream.
- Before you begin to cook the ice cream base, place 250 mL (1 cup) of the cold whipping cream in a 1 L (4 cup) measuring cup (or a big bowl preferably with a pouring spout). Set a strainer over top. Set aside
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar until the mixture is a very pale yellow and very light.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk the rest of the sugar with the milk, the chai masala mix, the cardamom, the salt, and the rest of the cream. Heat the mixture until it is very hot and almost comes to a boil.
- Pour the hot milk mixture over the whisked yolks to temper the eggs. Whisk continuously until the mixture is homogenous, then transfer it back to the saucepan.
- Switch to a wooden spoon and, stirring constantly, heat the mixture on the stove over medium—low heat until the custard has thickened and has reached at least 83 ºC (181 ºF).
- Pour the mixture through the strainer, squeezing the custard out of the zest.
- Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate the spiced chai custard base for several hours to cool completely (overnight is best!).
- Place the frozen drum on the ice cream maker, and churn the custard according to instructions. It can take over 15 minutes to churn the ice cream.
- When the ice cream has reached the desired consistency. Turn off the machine, disassemble, and transfer the ice cream to a container. Place in freezer for a few hours to finish chilling.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.