There’s something about the combination of warm cinnamon, floral cardamon and spicy ginger in strong, black tea that just heats down to your core on these cold winter days. It’s a great way to add some kick to dreary days, especially as we near the end of winter and it seems like the sun is never going to come back out! I crave masala chai on these days, and the last thing I want to do is go outside to the nearest coffee shop or Indian restaurant to get it. So I needed a way to bring chai into my home!
I tried chai tea bags, but they just don’t do it for me. The spices aren’t strong enough for me. Chai concentrate or syrup is slightly better, but then you have to make sure you have milk or cream on hand (which isn’t always the case in our house!). I’ve seen these chai sweeteners that add spices to sweetened condensed milk floating around this crazy interweb lately, and it seemed like the best of everything I wanted: milky AND sweet AND spicy! Just add a spoonful to ridiculously strong black tea (and maybe a squeeze of honey) and you’re all set.
I added vanilla to the mix, which isn’t traditional. But I think it really accents the cinnamon and spices beautifully. You can simply leave it out if you’re more of a traditionalist.
Just a few notes: your results will vary based on how strong and fresh your spices are. In particular, you may wish to start with less nutmeg, clove and cardamon, because too much of these spices can make your chai a little bitter. Add more in 1/4 teaspoon increments until you’re happy with the balance of spices. Also, I still needed a touch more sweetener in my tea so I added some honey to the tea itself. There wasn’t quite enough sweetener in the condensed milk for me, but that’s a matter of personal taste.
Keep a small jar in your office refrigerator to make yourself a fancy breakfast or afternoon treat. Just don’t label the jar, in case your coworkers discover your secret stash. The sweetener would really liven up bad workplace coffee. And on that note: while a spoonful of this is great in coffee, the cardamom really . . . blooms, I would say. It comes through pretty strong. And again, you might need to add a touch of honey, sugar or agave syrup to get the result you desire.
I would also love to play with this sweetener in baked goods. Maybe in a cake? Ooh, or a chai dulce de leche?