Masala Chai Creme Brulee
This version of crème brulée is flavored with the spices that are used in masala chai. Cloves, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon give the dessert the distinct flavor of masala chai combined with the richness of a French custard. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but after the first bite it has become my favorite flavor. Don't get me wrong; lemon, butterscotch and green tea are great flavors, but the masala spices are absolutely intoxicating.
I'm not a big tea drinker, but whenever we have a party and serve masala chai, I end up drinking all the leftovers. What can I say, I'm addicted. Even though the flavors of this drink are fabulous, it's probably good that I don't drink this particular tea that often because of its high caffeine content. Masala chai crème brulée has as much caffeine as a cup of masala chai, along with all the fat that is found in a crème brulée. Something else to keep me awake at night!
Yields: 8 ramekins4 egg yolks
5 tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods, crushed with a mallet
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 black tea bags
1- ½ cups white baking chocolate (8 ounces)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat the oven at 325°F.
Break the white chocolate bar and finely chop it using a chef's knife. Set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, cardamom, clove, ginger and cinnamon. Bring it to a near boil. Turn off the heat and immediately add the chocolate chips and tea bags. Using a spatula, keep stirring until the chocolate is fully incorporated (see tips). Let the tea steep for about 2 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea flavor (no more than 4 minutes or the tea will release its acidity); the color will turn amber.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 5 tablespoons of sugar until they become pale yellow. Add the vanilla extract and salt. Combine the dairy liquid with the egg mixture by slowly adding a ladle of the dairy liquid at a time to prevent the yolks from curdling (it's called tempering).
Strain through a fine mesh and discard all the solids and spices.
Fill 8 (4-¼-inch diameter) ramekins (make sure they are heat-proof) with the crème brulée custard. Place them in a warm water bath in a deep baking pan. The water should go half-way up the side of the ramekins (at least a 1-½-inch-high level of water). Loosely cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes. The texture of the crèmes brulées should be a little jiggly but not liquid (the custard will get firmer and creamier as it chills in the refrigerator).
Allow the crèmes brulées to cool completely first, then plastic-wrap each individual cup and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. The fat from the cream may pick up other food odors from the refrigerator if the cups are not sealed properly.
When serving, unwrap the cups and sprinkle about 1-½ teaspoons of sugar in each cup, then caramelize with a culinary torch.
Enjoy it with a cup of masala chai.
I used PG Tips brand tea. That's the brand that my father-in-law grew up on back in India. He orders it from
I used Belgian white chocolate that I bought directly from the local market but you can use any other white chocolate chips.
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
While waiting for the cream and milk to boil, you have to be very careful. Don't go anywhere else. If the phone rings or someone's at the door, let it go. You really have to focus until the cream and milk is hot, otherwise you'll be cleaning your stove and scraping off burnt milk all night long! As soon as some bubbles come up, turn off the heat and immediately add the black tea and white chocolate.
While letting the chocolate steep in the dairy mixture, it's preferable to stir the mixture until the liquid is smooth, rather than whisking to create as little milk froth as possible. You don't want a latte foam to form.
If you don't own a blow torch, you can place the crèmes brulées under the broiler of the oven until the sugar caramelizes. But if you decide to make this dessert quite often like we do, a culinary torch is a good investment.
Set aside the egg whites in the refrigerator and save them for making tuiles cookies (literally "roof tiles" in French).
When you take the pot de cremes out of the oven, they should be a little jiggly. Refrigerating them for at least 3 hours helps create a firmer consistency.
Published By: on February 5, 2010.