Can we just talk about chai tea for a second? It’s amazing! Don’t you agree? If you haven’t tried chai yet, get yourself a cup right now! There is something so addictive about the taste of that sweet, warm, herbal drink as it trickles down your throat. The chilly December air seems to melt away like snow leaving you in a state of pure latté bliss as you take each longing sip. And then their is hot cocoa. Truth be told here, I’m not a fan of that store-bought chocolate powdered stuff. It reminds me of all those bone-chilling marching band competitions in high school. Huddles of students would sit on the metal bleachers, wrapped under layers upon layers of blankets, sipping from Styrofoam cups filled with hot cocoa in hopes of regaining feelings in their toes. Maybe it’s those cold memories that put me at arm’s length when it comes to hot cocoa. Now hot chocolate, on the other hand, is a completely different story! Real deal hot chocolate is where it is at! When you mix it with homemade chai tea, though, you get a combo that is purely magical.
Christmas times always calls for two things: baking cookies and drinking hot chocolate. I’ve already accomplished the cookie part in my last post. To get myself truly in the holiday spirit, I knew I needed to make myself some homemade hot chocolate. Unlike hot cocoa, that comes in a powdered form, hot chocolate is real chocolate heated with cream and pinch of cayenne for “heat”. What I love about this chai tea hot chocolate recipe is how simple it is to put together. One Dutch oven, roughly 25 minutes of your life, and that’s it! When I first developed this recipe, I made the tea and hot chocolate separately. In that first attempt, I accidentally used bittersweet chocolate instead of semi-sweet and the drink had a strong and bitter aftertaste which didn’t work for me. For my second attempt, I wanted to see if I could just mess the two together and prepare both at the same time, in the same pan (spoiler alert: it totally worked!).
The aromas that will come steaming out of your Dutch oven will be indescribable. It will smell first like classic hot chocolate, but then you will detect the subtle notes of all the spices of the chai tea. So warm and incredibly flavorful. It’s a pairing that was destined to be brought together. This recipe yields around 4-5 cups in total, so double or triple the batch and make this hot chocolate for your upcoming holiday party or any other wintertime gathering. Your guest will be asking for seconds (and the recipe!)
Chai Tea Hot Chocolate
1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
3 tablespoons high-quality cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon espresso powder
3 ½ cups cold water
¼ cup strongly brewed coffee
3 bags of black tea
4 cups whole milk
6 ounces’ semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Combine the ginger, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cocoa powder, cayenne, and espresso powder in a medium saucepan. Use a spoon to stir everything together. Add the water and coffee and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pan, and allow mixture to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan from the heat. Add in the tea bags and let steep 5 minutes.
Discard the tea bags and carefully pour in the milk. Add the chocolate and both sugars. Bring this mixture up to a simmer over high heat, whisking until the sugars dissolve. Remove from the heat and pour hot chocolate through a fine mesh strainer before dividing into mugs and serving with marshmallows and shaven pieces of milk chocolate.