Chai Pots de Crème

April 21, 2011

Masala chai is an Indian beverage which consists of tea and spices brewed in hot milk. The first chai I ever drank was at Java’s Café in downtown Rochester, which they brew from scratch while you wait. Java’s offers two different varieties: Tra-que, which is sweet and cinnamon-y, and Kashmiri, which is peppery and spicy. After having their fresh-made chai, and especially after having real homemade chai every day on my trip to India last winter, I have always been disappointed that other coffee shops and cafés in Rochester serve only powdered mixes. The mixes are overly sweet for my taste and often contain nontraditional flavors such as chocolate or raspberry, which overwhelm the flavors of the spices and tea. I’ve tried making my own chai at home, but it never comes out as intensely flavorful as what I was served in India.

I made these pots de crème from Bon Appètit Desserts anticipating a mild spice flavor similar to my homemade chai, but the results far exceeded my expectations! The spice is potent but not overwhelming, and the custard has the perfect amount of sweetness. I will definitely be making these more often as the weather becomes too warm for hot tea!

Chai pots de crème

Makes 6



  • 1  cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1  cup whole milk
  • 1  tablespoon loose-leaf English Breakfast tea or jasmine tea
  • 1  cinnamon stick
  • 8  whole cardamom pods
  • 6  whole cloves
  • 3  (1/4-inch thick) rounds peeled fresh ginger
  • 4  large egg yolks
  • 1/2  cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon finely grated orange peel


  • 1/2  cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1  teaspoon sugar


  1. Custard: Combine cream, milk, tea, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins in 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Pour cream mixture through fine strainer into medium bowl. Discard solids left in strainer.
  3. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and orange peel in 4-cup measuring cup to blend well. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture. Pour custard mixture into custard cups, dividing equally (cups will not be full). Add enough hot water to baking pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Cover pan with foil. Pierce foil in several places to allow steam to escape.
  4. Bake custards until softly set (center will move slightly when cups are shaken gently), about 30 minutes. Remove custards from water. Cool slightly on rack. Chill uncovered in refrigerator until cold.
  5. Topping: Beat cream and sugar in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Place dollop of whipped cream atop each pot de crème and serve.

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