I was battling through a five hour train journey from Farnborough to Doncaster recently, which included, much to my delight, 90 minutes of rail replacement bus service also. In these conditions, I thought it was only fair that I treated myself to an overpriced latte and flapjack from the posh coffee place at the station.
And it was there that I fell in love……chai latte. So creamy! So dreamy! My life has never been the same again.
Most days don’t contain the trials and tribulations of that train journey to condone me spending as much money on a coffee as I would spend on food for a whole day. Plus, coffee has a tendency to make me zing about so much that I give myself (and everyone else) a headache. However, I found this product in the supermarket, which has been answering my chai cravings whilst not caffeining me up too much. What I have discovered, is that when making a hot chocolate at home, if you use one spoonful of your hot choc mix, and one spoonful of the chai latte mix, the results are heaven in a mug.
And with that in mind, I thought I would have a go at making my very own chai hot choc mix! I’ve seen lots of great ideas on Pinterest (here, here and here) for either spiced hot chocolate, or chai tea mix, which I took ideas from.
My experimenting supplies (banana not included)
The recipe that ended up making me smile the most was the one below. If you plan on making your own, I would say it is defninitely worth making the base hot chocolate (milk powder, chocolate, icing sugar and cocoa) and then adding spices a bit at a time, until it tastes how you want. I love the taste of cardamom, so in the first batch I put a tsp of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in – it was like some awful, fragrant spice explosion. Lesson learned: some spices are stronger than others!
Ground cardamom is a) tough to get hold of, b) pretty expensive and c) not particularly good quality. If you can get cardamom pods, they’re much better. Most speciality food stores, supermarkets or delis should have them – I got a whole bag for £1.05 from the amazing deli counter in Doncaster market :)
To prepare your own cardamom, toast a few pods in a pan, and then bash the pods to remove the shells. You’re then meant to grind the seeds with a pestle and mortar, but I don’t have one – a rolling pin worked fine! As soon as you remove the shells you’ll get a blast of the beautiful fragrance. It’s pretty powerful stuff though, so use in moderation. You can always add more if you want!
This recipe should make around 5 generous mugs of chai hot choc, depending on how you make it.
I also read in some recipes that you can cut an orange into slices, bake the slices on a low heat in the oven, and then use the dried orange flesh in a dry mix too. I would like to try making a hot chocolate orange at some point! I’ve also got some star anise I’d like to find a use for, which might go into the mix. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has found a successful combination!
Chai Hot Chocolate
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
3 tbsps vanilla icing sugar
5 tbsps good quality chocolate (I used 70% dark choc with cocoa nibs), ground to a fine powder.
¼ nut of nutmeg, grated
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp freshly ground cardamom (seeds from approx. 4 cardamom pods, toasted and crushed)
½ tsp Darjeeling tea
1) Toast your cardamom pods in a pan for a few minutes. Bash them open and remove the shells. Grind the seeds up finely.
2) Finely grate the chocolate.I put mine through the food processor, or you could do it by hand. Don’t worry too much about grating every last millimetre – the final mix will be sieved to remove any lumpy bits.
3) Measure all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly
4) Pass the ingredients through a sieve to remove any larger particles. This should remove any bits of spice and chocolate which aren’t fully ground down.
….and you’re done!
Mix 2 tbsps with a mug of warm milk or with hot water (2 parts milk to 1 part water tastes great) and enjoy. The dry mix will store for up to 3 months.