When I think of a drink that warms you through, I think of a Chai Latte. Warm, of course, temperature-wise. But warm with spice too. Soothing, smooth, and warm.
A Chai Latte was my "crossover" drink in college. That and Frozen Milky Ways. (I happily blame Common Grounds.) The drinks that made me venture from a strictly hot chocolate/hot tea drinker to actually enjoying coffee. Because if I liked a tea that was a latte, surely an espresso-based latte would be good too, right?
But I digress.
Chai. I've never attempted to reproduce a chai latte at home until recently, when a recipe in Southern Living this fall peaked my interest. I altered their recipe a bit, as I really like a vanilla flavor in my chai...and I love frothed milk.
4 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced
6 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1/4 tsp. whole cloves
1/4 tsp. black peppercorns
1 vanilla bean (or 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla)*
4 regular-size black tea bags
cinnamon and star anise to garnish
1. Bring milk, cream, sugar, ginger, cardamom, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, and vanilla bean along with 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Add tea bags and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard all solids.
3. Pour a small amount of chai latte into a frother, until latte has doubled in amount. Divide remaining latte between mugs, top each with some of the foamed chai. Garnish with a dusting of cinnamon and a star anise.
Yields 7 cups.
*You could also substitute 1-2 tsp. vanilla syrup, stirring the syrup into the latte immediately before serving.