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Passionate baker with Italian background

Passport & Plate - Chai masala cream with chocolate ganache

India | Wednesday, 12 March 2014 | 5 photos

Milk, 50 cc
Cream, 200 grams
Chai tea, 2 envelopes
Condensed milk, 80 grams
Gelatin powder, 5 grams
Water, about 25 cc
Fresh ginger, 1 coin measuring about 1/2 cm
Cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon
Clove, a pinch
Cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon
Allspice, a pinch

Optional elements:

Cream, 130 cc
Dark chocolate, 130 grams

Oat praline:
Sugar, 200 grams
Old-fashioned oats, 50 grams


How to prepare this recipe
1. Boil the milk and 50 cc of the cream with the ginger.
2. Turn off the burner and add the tea envelopes to the milk-cream mixture. Let it infuse for 5 minutes. Remove the tea and the ginger.
3. Add the cardamom, the clove, the cinnamon, the allspice and the condensed milk and mix it in with a whisk.
4. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water (at room temperature, not hot) and mix it in using a fork so as to avoid lumps. If you can, let it rest for a few minutes so the gelatin has a chance to absorb some water and plump up. Then heat it up in the microwave for 10-20 seconds at full power or use a water bath to gently dissolve it. The mixture is perfect when you see it is transparent and you check with a spoon or your fingers and it is absolutely smooth and you do not see or feel any lumps. After that, you add it to the tea mixture.
5. In a new bowl, whisk by hand or with an electric whisk the remaining 150 cc of cream until it gets firmer but not fully firm (you do not have to whip it up fully like you do when making chantilly cream, you just need to incorporate some air). Fold it in to the tea mixture gently until the mixture is smooth and the color is even.
6. Pour it in cups, silicone molds or your preferred mold and let it set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. If you use silicone molds, I recommend freezing it first before unmolding it and then defrosting it in the fridge to better preserve the shape.

In one of the presentations I chose to show you, I used glasses (that I tilted over muffin molds for the first layer to create a diagonal line). After the chai mixture set, I put the glass back in its straight position and poured in some dark chocolate ganache that was still a bit warm. It can be eaten with the ganache still warm and the cream cold to get 2 textures and temperatures, or you can put it back in the fridge so that the ganache sets fully. I decorated one of the glasses with a piece of oat praline, but anything crunchy works well.


The story behind this recipe
I think I´ve always been a traveler in a way. I´ve never been scared of planes -- I´m happy to be on a plane because it means I´m going far enough to need a plane to get me there!
And one of the things I enjoy the most in my travels is discovering new flavors: be it a honey pork bun in China or lulo, an amazing tropical fruit found in Colombia. Besides the magical moments on the road, traveling through food also allows me to extend my trip once I get back home by recreating those flavors.
One such discovery was chai tea. I wish I could say I first tried it in India, but I didn´t. I first tried it in a bookstore café in Oklahoma of all places! It was just one of those times when I just choose something because I haven´t had it before and I see many people trying it, so I just went for it and I was completely enchanted right on the spot. The taste and smell of that alluring mix of spices seems as if it was made especially for me: cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, a bit of pepper, and cloves, sometimes a bit of vanilla, always mixed with a bit of milk, which helps to marry and soften the flavors.
In India, chai actually means tea and chai masala is the most common type of tea there, sold by the cupful from big pots everywhere, even at train stations. But to my Argentine palate, it was a complete revelation.
So I set about finding it and recreating the flavor at home, and I have to say I luckily succeeded at both! It´s just a matter of having all the spices at hand and adjusting the amounts until you get the balance of flavors you enjoy the most.
The recipe for chai cream I´m sharing with you was part of the dessert I created for my final exam at pastry school. It´s really easy to make and it has converted many a chai novice into a die-hard fan.
And even if I have yet to go to India, I hope this recipe can transport us all there for a little while and awaken our palates to all that this magnificent world has to offer.

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