I love the rich, fragrant flavours of chai tea. Earlier this school year, I was drinking chai everyday - so much so that one of my new students (who'd just arrived from India) got his mother to make me a batch of "the real stuff" as he put it.
And, what's not to love about cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and ginger? These are flavours that warm the soul, I tell you. When it's a rainy, blah day, I see these flavours as a warm, cozy blanket.
So when Cooking Light's May issue arrived this week, showcasing not one but two chai infused recipes (muffins and cream pie), I knew I had to try at least one of the two out. But, because I was missing a few ingredients (namely, chai tea), I had to improvise.
I started by trying to infuse some milk with cinnamon, cardamon and cloves. Now, I don't know what went wrong with that train of thought, but the milk curdled on me while I was heating it. Twice (Once at the 120ºF mark and the second time at the 140ºF mark). It was very, very strange - especially because I've made many a batch of chai tea before. I cleaned the pot and all the tools I used for measuring and stirring between attempts, so if anyone can tell me what might have happened, I'd be forever in your debt.
In the end, I had to improvise, but the results were definitely worth it.
Darjeeling Chai Spiced Muffins with Pistachios and Vanilla
(adapted from Cooking Light)
7.9 oz all purpose flour (1 3/4 cup)
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cardamon
1 1" piece ginger, finely grated on a rasp
3 tsp loose darjeeling tea
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar)
¼ cup butter, melted
1½ tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup shelled dry roasted pistachios, chopped
½ cup icing sigar
1 tbsp water
1. Preheat oven to 375º. Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cup liners and spray the inside of liners with cooking spray, if desired.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour with next 8 ingredients (through tea). Make a well in the centre of the bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, 1 tsp vanilla and egg. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir just until moist. Divide batter evenly between liners. Sprinkle with nuts. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted comes out clean. Remove from pan and let cool for 5 minutes on a rack.
4. Combine remaining ½ tsp vanilla with icing sugar and water, stirring until smooth. Drizzle evenly over muffins. Serve with tea and let the rain fall outside the window.