last summer, i got it into my head that i wanted to try making chai frozen yogurt. after all, i love all things chai and what better way to enjoy chai in the summer than frozen? we’re certainly not turning on the oven for chai-spiced apple cinnamon rolls, though i have to say, i can’t wait for cooler weather to return so that i can start testing those… anyway, i ran out of time last summer to tinker with chai frozen yogurt and i put the idea on hold, waiting for frozen dessert making season to roll around again.
a few weeks ago i decided it was high time to start working on my chai frozen yogurt recipe. because i like to make things difficult for myself keep things interesting, i was determined that this would be a frozen yogurt recipe, since i’ve never made frozen yogurt before and wanted to try it, rather than an ice cream recipe. this decision became relevant about 0.02 seconds into the recipe development process.
you see, as you know if you’ve made infused ice cream before (might i recommend thai basil if you’re looking for a new one to try?), infusing flavors into ice cream is a relatively straightforward process, since you’re going to be heating and including a liquid (cream and/or milk) anyway.
well, with frozen yogurt, all of the recipes that i found initially basically just combined yogurt with sugar – no extra liquid. rut roh. i noticed that the recipes called for “regular” yogurt, as opposed to the much thicker greek yogurt, so i decided that if i used greek yogurt, i could sneak some infused liquid in too.
i ended up having to test several different versions of this recipe in order to get one that i liked and felt excited to share with y’all. one version really stands out as the most spectacular failure and, alas, that one had to go straight into the trash once it was mixed; i didn’t even bother to run it through the machine because the base tasted so bad.
fortunately, this is not that recipe! *this* chai frozen yogurt recipe contains all of the spicy goodness of chai with just enough sugar to keep the yogurt from being too cold, too icy, and way too hard to scoop (looking at you, version 3). i used brown sugar here because a) i love it and sub it in for white sugar as often as chemistry will let me and b) i think it reinforces the medley of chai spices.
so while i still can’t wait for cooler temperatures to arrive, at least i can make the wait more bearable with some chai frozen yogurt to keep me cool and my chai craving satisfied.
- ¾ cup (6 oz. / 180 ml) boiling water
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 10 bags or ¼ cup loose black tea, such as english breakfast (decaf is optional but recommended)
- ¾ cup (160 g. / 5 5/8 oz.) dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 500 g. (17 1/2 oz.) plain greek yogurt, full fat and kept cold
- if you are using a canister-style ice cream maker, be sure to let the empty canister chill in the freezer for at least 24 and ideally 48 hours before you put it to use making delicious treats.
- pour the boiling water into a small microwave safe bowl and add the peppercorns, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. stir and cover with a large plate or cutting board and steep for 1 hour.
- remove the lid and microwave the bowl until the water is boiling again. add the tea, stir, cover, and steep for 10 more minutes.
- line a fine mesh sieve with a coffee filter, cheesecloth, or sturdy paper towel. strain the tea water into a large bowl, squeezing as much liquid out of the tea/spices as you can (you should have about ½ cup of water at this point). add the sugar and vanilla to the infused water and whisk to dissolve the sugar. add the yogurt and whisk thoroughly until everything is combined evenly.
- cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the yogurt mixture is cold all the way through, about 1 hour.
- if possible, set your ice cream maker up in a cool(er) room. pour the mixture into your frozen ice cream maker canister and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. i ran it through my machine for 30 minutes. if you have a thermometer, the base is ready when the center reaches 21° F.
- once the frozen yogurt base is ready, transfer it to a shallow, plastic storage container with a lid (here’s why). tightly seal the frozen yogurt and get it into the coldest (back) part of your freezer asap. freeze until desired consistency is reached. when serving from the freezer, allow it to thaw for 5 minutes before scooping.
as i mentioned above, this recipe has just enough sugar to keep the yogurt from being too cold, too icy, and way too hard to scoop. i used brown sugar here because a) i love it and b) i think it reinforces the medley of chai spices.
everything i read about making frozen yogurt iterated that you need to use full fat yogurt (again, to prevent the final product from being too cold/icy/frozen solid like an ice cube).
this article on serious eats was super helpful as i developed this recipe.
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