The air is crisp and the leaves have changed colors: 'tis the season for pumpkins!
A few weeks ago, we went to Atlantic City and met up with a good friend. We had a great time. The highlight of that trip (other than the fantastic company, of course) was my discovery of Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Latte. Oh DD, you never fail to amaze my taste buds! I lived in Boston for almost a decade, so you can guess where I stand on the great Starbucks vs. Dunkin Donuts debate... I digress. Recently, Amit pointed out that I drink more coffee than humanly possible and I'm now trying to cut down a bit. Not only is coffee withdrawal painful on its own BUT it is also the peak of pumpkin flavored coffee - torture is the word that comes to mind. Then, I remembered the deliciousness that is Chai.
Chai (as sold in the US) has a combination of cinnamon, anise, cardamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These spices are a perfect match to pumpkin (your pumpkin pie spice probably has most of these). For today's recipe, I used Tazo Chai. I've tried most of the different brands of chai, and just this once, I have to give it Starbucks, their Tazo Chai is the best one out there. For pumpkin flavor, I used Torani's sugar-free Pumpkin syrup. Why sugar-free? No reason, other than I'd rather use my calories elsewhere. It reminds me of a joke by "Fluffy" Iglesias: "why do I drink diet coke? so I can eat regular fries!" oh, that Fluffy cracks me up! I digress, again... this is what happens when my brain doesn't get enough caffeine, I have the attention span of a fruit fly.
To add creaminess, I mixed 2 tablespoons of Lecherita (Mexican condensed milk) with about half a cup of warm milk. I find that Lecherita gives hot drinks a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them taste gourmet.
I made these at the end of a cold, rainy day and decided to turn them into a hot cocktail by adding rum. I suggest a spiced rum to complement the flavors, but you can also add your favorite whiskey or brandy.
To top them off, I made a spiced whipped cream with Mexican vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. As the whipped cream slowly melted into the chai, it added even more creaminess and flavor to the drink. I think I found a nice replacement for my pumpkin flavored coffee. Buen Provecho!
Ingredients (makes 2)
- 2 Chai tea bags (I suggest Tazo chai)
- 12 oz. boiling water
- 4 oz. warm milk
- 3 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup
- 2 tablespoons Lecherita (Mexican condensed milk)
- 3 tablespoons Spiced Rum (*optional)
- 4 oz. heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (regular vanilla extract works fine, too)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
- pinch of nutmeg powder
1. To make the spiced whipped cream: In a chilled bowl, place sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and whipping cream. Whisk until the cream makes stiff peaks. Cover and put it back in the fridge until ready to use.
2. Put 1 chai bag in each mug and add 6 oz. boiling water to each. Let steep for no longer than 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag.
3. Combine warm milk and condensed milk and add half of the mixture to each mug.
4. Add 1.5 tablespoons pumpkin syrup to each mug.
5. OPTIONAL: To make a hot cocktail, add 1.5 tablespoons spiced rum to each mug.
6. Top each mug with spiced whipped cream. Enjoy!