I’m smack in the middle of a long love affair with Chai Tea. I can’t remember when exactly it started, only that it was love at first sip.
I’ve always been a tea drinker. When I was younger, I only drank black tea loaded with cream and sugar or my mom’s super sweet spearmint tea. But eventually I learned to enjoy tea in all its forms–white, herbal, fruity, and green. Honeyed or even (gasp) unsweetened with a shot of lemon juice (my teenage self would be mortified!)
But Chai, oh beloved Chai. Chai deserves its own category. It’s got the robust flavor of black tea, made creamy and indulgent with the addition of milk, and completed by the delicate interplay of cinnamon and cardamom, the spiciness of black pepper, and a kick of ginger at the end. It’s my rainy day, good novel, weekend brunch, sick in bed, stressful day cup of choice.
Then there’s the Iced Chai Latte. Once I tried that, my obsession was complete. I mean, shut up. Everything I love–all the spicy, milky goodness of Chai–but turned into a cool, refreshing summer thirst quencher? That is my kind of drink.
Which brings me to granita, the theme for this month’s Blue Ribbon Challenge over at Crunchy. Creamy. Sweet. When I first learned the theme for this month’s challenge, I actually had to go and look it up. I couldn’t remember ever trying granita, and I definitely had never made it before.
Turns out, granita is an Italian dish typically used as a palate cleanser between courses. It involves some combination of liquids frozen and then raked with a fork until light, fluffy ice crystals form. The result is a pillowy, just barely sweet concoction that lies somewhere between dessert and drink.
This Chai Latte Granita is made from my favorite homemade chai recipe. It’s very simple to make and easily customizable based on your own preferences. I like my Chai heavy on the cinnamon and ginger, but feel free to decrease the amounts if you prefer. The recipe makes A LOT of Chai, so unless you’re planning for a crowd, you may only want to freeze half and save the other half for warm or iced Chai Lattes.
The result resembles my favorite Iced Chai Latte, but in a slightly more eclectic form. It was surprisingly addictive. The flavors are more subtle when served cold, but I found myself continuing to go back, bite after bite, for just one more taste. I served the mixture with fresh whipped cream spiked with tea and swirled with honey. Scooped into individual glasses, this makes for a light and elegant finish to a summer meal.
Be sure to head over to Crunchy. Creamy. Sweet. and check out the other entries and vote for your favorite in this month’s challenge!
Chai Latte Granita with Honeyed Whipped Cream
Recipe by Bake. Eat. Repeat.
7 cups water
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 slices unpeeled fresh ginger
14 whole cinnamon sticks
12 cardamom pods
10 whole black pepper corns
8 black tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
For the whipped cream:
1 pint whipping cream
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons black tea
1. In a large pot, add water, milk, cream ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and orange peel. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Watch carefully to avoid boiling over! Once the mixture is boiling, add tea bags, turn heat off, cover and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Remove tea bags. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour into two large shallow pans and allow to cool.
2. Cover pans and place in the freezer. Allow to set for 2-3 hours or until the edges are starting to freeze. Remove and use a fork to rake through the frozen mixture. Return to freezer then remove again after 30 minutes to 1 hour and rake. Repeat this process 2-3 times or until mixture is completely frozen ice flakes. Alternatively, you can freeze the mixture completely then break into large chunks and pulse in the blender until crystallized. This method is much faster, but will yield smaller more uniform crystals (more like a slushie) than the raking method.
3. For the whipped cream, place cream in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Beat in honey and tea.
4. To serve, place granita in individual cups and top with whipped cream.