Christmas still baffles me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. Decorating the tree, munching on sugar cookies, hanging out with the family. But not having grown up celebrating Christmas, I will never understand why a day-long holiday manages to last a whole season. Or why perfectly normal radio stations play painfully festive music nonstop. Or why some people wait until December 24th to shop for presents.
Elbowing and shoving my way through the mall does not sound like fun to me. I’d much rather make chai.
I saw this idea last week at The Kitchn and have been playing with spice variations since. This recipe is quite flexible, so you can adjust it to your taste. The recipe below is the version I’m enjoying now, but it would be nice with a bit of ground ginger, or some cloves too. The basic idea is so simple, and the ingredients are so common you may even have them in your kitchen right now. Just stir together sweetened condensed milk and spices, and you have chai concentrate. I was surprised at how a spoonful of this concentrate can transform an ordinary cup of tea into something creamy and fragrant. Just spoon into a jar, tie with a ribbon, and you have an instant holiday gift.
There is really nothing authentic about this recipe, but it certainly is innovative. And delicious. I’ve always been a chai tea fan, but being able to enjoy a decadent, cozy cup of spiced tea anytime is fantastic. I even brought a little jar of chai concentrate to work this week to stir into my black tea. I like Darjeeling tea best, but use what you enjoy. And it’s actually pretty wonderful stirred into coffee too!
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Stir all ingredients together and transfer to an attractive jar. Store in the refrigerator (it will last a few months). To serve, stir a spoonful (or more to taste) into a cup of brewed black tea.