Why must we be so literal, people? Why can't we warm up in unconventional ways? On a brisk fall day, you may want to warm your soul with a pinch of cinnamon, a tingle of spicy ginger and peppercorn, and a waft of fragrant vanilla. So, why not put all that into a cool mouthful of ice cream? You'll get it when you try it, trust me...
Chai Tea Ice Cream
(yield: 1 pint)
2 cups whole milk
1/2 of a vanilla bean, scraped
1 cinnamon stick
2, 1-inch slices fresh ginger
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
pinch of salt
3 bags of black tea (Earl Grey or Lipton will do)
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
Place milk, vanilla seeds (and scraped bean), cinnamon stick, ginger, peppercorns, salt, tea bags, and 1/4 cup sugar into a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a faint simmer, and remove from heat. Discard the tea bags.
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whisk as you gradually pour the hot milk into the bowl. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over very low heat for 3-4 minutes, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Discard spices, and strain the mixture into a bowl or container. Let custard cool to room temerature, and then continue to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Pour the custard into an ice cream machine, and churn according to manufacturer's instructions (my cuisinart ice cream machine took 30 minutes). Transfer churned ice cream to a freezer-safe container and chill in the freezer until ready to eat. If you can't wait that long, you will have to settle for soft-serve ice cream, Boo hoo!