Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cozy Up With Masala Chai Hot Chocolate


The days are getting shorter, the trees are shedding their technicolor leaves, and I'm starting to pile on the warm sweaters and burrow under cuddly blankets. Naturally, my mind starts drifting towards teas that have a little extra something- comfort, warmth, richness. Winter also means I'm looking for spice and sweet. The only time I really add flavor or sweetness to my tea is for a soothing cup of masala chai. Lately I've been bubbling warm pots of hot cocoa on the stove, and the other day I decided to add components of masala chai into my cocoa. There are many recipes out there for chai hot chocolate, but I'm rather fond of the one that I've come up with. The tea flavor really comes through, and the rich chocolate flavor makes everything super comforting and decadent. This is a warming, hearty cup with flavors (and feels) that will linger well past the last sip.

For the black tea in this recipe, you'll want to use something that brews up nice and strong. We don't need any fancy teas here, a broken leaf or even CTC will do just fine if you have it. I like to use a Kenyan or Irish Breakfast blend, and I've even used bags of PG tips when we have them on hand (my husband likes them, and I admit I don't mind a cuppa now and again). 


My big secret for this masala chai hot chocolate is to start with just the milk, water, ginger, and cinnamon. I like to heat this up and let it barely bubble for about 5-10 minutes. I find the ginger and cinnamon need time to infuse the milk, otherwise they get lost in the stronger flavors of cocoa and cardamom. A very low heat is key here, as the milk will very quickly turn into a volcano of foam cascading onto the stove top.


Tea Happiness' Masala Chai Hot Chocolate
serves 2 (or one very decadent cup)

1.5 cups milk (I like 2% cow's milk but you can use any milk of choice)
1/2 cup water
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I love this one)
2 tbsp (or 2 tea bags) black tea
6 cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
5 peppercorns
3-4 tbsp sugar (to taste)

In a small saucepan combine the water, milk, ginger, and cinnamon stick. Slowly heat this up and let it slightly bubble bubble (do not let this boil or you'll have a milky mess all over the stovetop!) for about 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat and gently whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar (start with 3 tbsp of sugar, taste, and then add as desired). Once this is well incorporated, add the tea and remaining spices. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure you don't get a 'skin' on the top. Strain the mixture into a small teapot, and serve.

You could certainly garnish the masala chai hot chocolate with whipped cream, or sprinkle additional spices on top, but I like it straight up. The flavors are amazing and I don't think it needs any further embellishment!


Trust me, your kitchen will smell amazing after you whisk up a pot of this masala chai hot chocolate! Everyone will come running in for a taste. You can easily make a larger batch of this, but be sure to monitor the sugar and cocoa powder and taste as you go. 

The kids and I had so much fun sampling various versions of this masala chai hot chocolate, until we found just the right combination of flavors. If you'd like to serve it to little ones, I'd suggest omitting the tea, or at least cutting back on it. It's definitely got a bit of a caffeine kick from all the tea and cocoa. You can also use sweetened cocoa powder or a good quality hot chocolate mix in this recipe, but be sure to omit the extra sugar if you do. 

This weekend, cozy up with a few books, a big blanket and a few cups of this masala chai hot chocolate, and I guarantee you'll be ready for the blustery winter ahead.

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