When you are snowed in, packed up to your neck with snow, there’s nothing better than seeking the ultimate comfort foods.
On a day when the world seems like it is going to end, nothing can pick me up faster than a good chai tea latte. I find that chai tea lattes from coffee shops are usually a little too sweet. Looking at the container, they also take months and months to expire, due to added coloring and preservatives. I like to keep things simple. This week, I got my chai-wallah on (yes, that was a Slumdog Millionare reference) and decided to make my own homemade chai extract.
I actually had StumbledUpon a recipe for homemade chai, but decided to tweak it a little to suit my needs, which my roomies and I found to be absolutely delicious.
4½ cups Water
1 stick Cinnamon*
7 whole Cardamom Pods*
2 whole Star Anise Pods*
10 whole Cloves*
1 piece Fresh Ginger Chopped
½ teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
10 Black Tea Bags ( or you can use 10 teaspoons of loose Black Tea)**
⅔ cups Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
*There is no need to buy an entire container of each of these spices, since you probably won’t use them enough to make it worth purchasing. I go to Whole Foods and buy just as much as I need for a recipe in the bulk spices section; these spices cost me about a dollar to buy.
**For the tea bags, I just used the Lipton Tea Bags that I have grown up loving, they are cheap and easy to use. Just make sure that if you are using tea bags, that you snip the strings off with a pair of house scissors, the strings become tangled in the pot when cooking if you do not.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the spices and tea to boiling water, remove from heat and let steep 15-20 minutes, depending on how strong you want it.
- Pull out tea bags and spices, pouring over a mesh strainer is easiest.
- Add the brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- Mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk, heat or pour over ice and enjoy. For stronger flavor, add more concentrate.
There’s nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with this homemade chai latte and dipping delicious spiced cookies into them. I like to pair the chai latte with my molasses sugar cookies; they are almost like a soft version of the ginger snap cookie.
This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies, but it’s always a good idea to make more of these cookies than are needed. I have a hard time keeping my roomies away from them. I will be in the kitchen making dinner and my roommate will come out and have one and then go into her bedroom… a minute later she is back in the kitchen grabbing a handful to keep her fueled when studying.
Molasses Sugar Cookies
1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Melt shortening and cool. Add sugar, eggs and molasses; beat well.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ground clove, ginger, and pumpkin pie spice. Add to the molasses mixture and stir until well combined. Chill dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and form into walnut sized balls. Roll balls in white sugar. Place balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies and 10 to 12 minutes for crisper cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container.
I store my cookies in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. The trick to keeping cookies soft and fresh is to throw a piece of cheap white bread into the bag. It absorbs the staleness in ways that I can only conceive to be magic.