Chai is one of my favorite drinks; most definitely this Dirty Chocolate Chai. I have a sweet tooth, and the typical blend of tea, milk, cardamom and sugar is like having a luxurious, rich dessert. Add chocolate, and it becomes an even creamier smooth sensation. In America, we typically say, “chai tea,” however; “chai” in Hindi actually translates to tea. In India, it’s pervasive and isn’t considered a specialty tea at all – it’s the standard method of preparation.
The Origins of Chai
Food & Wine wrote a fascinating article on the origins and traditions around chai, which came to be during the British colonization of India, when the native people adapted traditional English preparation methods by adding exotic spices – at least exotic by that day’s standards. We’ve come to embrace them in our modern kitchens: ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
This recipe for Dirty Chocolate Chai comes to us from TCHO, the Berkley-based ethically sourced chocolate company, from which we’ve already featured a couple of recipes. We recently received a variety of chocolate samples, both ready-to-eat bars, and packaged “Bites.” I’ve found it very hard to share with my colleagues, but they’ve worn me down and we’re currently tasting and evaluating our favorites to share in a future story.
Chef Nathan Lyon, celebrity chef and cookbook author, as well as the Sustainable Seafood Ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is responsible for this Dirty Chocolate Chai drink, made with TCHO Drinking Chocolate, which he says is “the bomb.” His new cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, is available on Amazon.
You can find the TCHO Chocolate used in this recipe here.
- 12 green cardamom pods, crushed with a mallet or back of a pan
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half, seeds scraped and pod reserved
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks (2-1/2-inches long), crushed with a mallet or back of a pan
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (a microplane grater is recommended)
- 4 plain black tea bags
- 4 cups organic whole milk
- 1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup TCHO Drinking Chocolate
- 1/2 cup fresh espresso
- 1 Place cardamom, vanilla bean (the scraped seeds and the pod), cloves, cinnamon, ginger and tea bags in a triple-layered cheesecloth or nutmilk bag. If using cheesecloth, tie off with butcher's twine to form a spice pouch.
- 2 Add milk, sugar and the bag of spices to a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and, stirring occasionally, bring liquid to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 3 While milk is simmering, whisk to combine boiling water, chocolate and espresso in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
- 4 Remove spice bag from saucepan, straining out any liquid from bag into saucepan before discarding.
- 5 Transfer liquid from saucepan and small mixing bowl to blender and pulse to combine for 20 seconds, until frothy.
- 6 Pour into mugs and bask in the glory of your double-caffeinated chocolate beverage.