Tea-licious semifreddo recipe for the summer

Masala chai in - not with - your dessert!

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This festive season, with the sun shining bright on us, it’s time to bring out the cold desserts! Ever tried to make a semifreddo, a long lost Italian cousin of ice cream?

Seriously, it’s the Italian name for a semi-frozen dessert which can be like an ice cream/frozen custard/ice cream cake… anything which has a frozen mousse texture comes under this class. Traditionally, a semifreddo is made using eggs but today we have an eggless version making this dessert more accessible to the vegetarians too.

If you have never made a semifreddo, you need to give it a go. It is creamy, delicious, sweet, cold (yes, of course)… everything that you want from an ice cream, but at a quarter of the time or effort. And what’s more, you can go completely bonkers with flavours; get as creative, experimental or wild as you like.

I wanted this semifreddo to be a dedication to India’s much loved beverage – the masala chai.

The organic masala chai blend from T2 has been used in this recipe but feel free to use any type; even your homemade blends would do. The base of this recipe can be used in a zillion ways to conjure up flavours that you enjoy as a family. Think chocolate and strawberries or coconut and lime or maybe a coffee semifreddo too. The options are truly endless…

Masala chai semifreddo

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Masala Chai Semifreddo served with Crushed Pistachios and Fresh Figs
(Serves 4-6)

  • 400 ml full cream milk
  • 400 ml condensed milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp T2 organic spiced chai blend*
  • 200 ml water
  • 250ml heavy cream
  • Crushed pistachios; to garnish
  • Fresh figs (optional); to garnish

Add the chai blend to water and bring to boil (adding the chai blend to cold water and slowly bringing the water to boil helps to deepen the flavours). Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Strain and return the liquid to heat; simmer for another 4-5 minutes to slightly thicken the infusion. Remove and allow to cool.

Place the milk, condensed milk and salt in a pan and bring to boil; stirring continuously.

Reduce heat and add the tea infusion. I added one tablespoon at a time, tasting after each till I was happy with the flavour. Since the strength of your tea infusion might vary, taste and add enough to get that warm chai flavour but not too strong to overpower the dessert. I added approximately 7-8 teaspoons of the infusion.

Continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes till it reaches the consistency of a thin custard. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge.

Whip the cream into soft peaks and then fold into the chilled milk mixture.

Line the tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the tin. Freeze for at least 4 hours or till set.

Garnish with crushed pistachios and serve with fresh figs on the side.

Masala chai semifreddo

If you are using any other brand, make sure you adjust the quantities accordingly to get a flavoursome infusion which is not overpowering yet delivers the punch from the tea and spices.

There’s no particular shape to a semifreddo, though you are most likely to see it in a rectangular tin to scoop out like an ice cream. If you want individual portions, you can set it in individual glasses or moulds. I wanted an ice cream cake sort of feel, so went for a circular shape. Makes a great birthday cake option for summer.

The nuts and figs were an afterthought, to add that hint of indulgence and decadence that all of us crave during the festive season. It makes a gorgeous looking dessert, a real showstopper at your summer party.

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