As summer approaches with a vengeance is most parts of the country, my hot tea drinking habit is being supplanted by cold brewed tea served in glasses filled with ice cubes made from tea. And instead of seasonal stone fruit pies served warm, hours out of the oven, I opt for icy cold desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth. Not veering too far from my allegiance to tea, either in beverage form or as an ingredient in a dessert, I have been making all kinds of tea ice, granitas if you will, as a topping for a condensed milk-based ice cream. The hardest thing about this is deciding which tea to feature. Here’s my advice. Pick any tea you like to imbibe with dairy. For me, the teas from Assam, malty or otherwise, fit the bill but feel free to venture beyond the conventional.  

You will discover how pleasurable the dessert is when experiencing how the icy granita contrasts with the seriously creamy ice cream. As a professional pastry chef and instructor, I contend that two textures are better than one when it comes to desserts.  And if you have a buttery shortbread or crispy vanilla wafer on hand, crush it into irregular shards to add yet another layer of texture to the dessert.  Here’s how to achieve that icy/creamy contentment:

The dessert will serve 4 to 6 generously.

Tea Granita

Use 16 ounces of brewed tea, slightly sweetened and see the instructions below.

Brew any tea you like, slightly stronger than you would if you were drinking it hot, and then immediately add just enough sugar or other sweetener to barely sweeten it. Cool it and then pour it out into a shallow freezer-safe vessel. Freeze until it starts to crust over. Stir vigorously with a fork to break down the ice crystals and return the dish to the freezer. Freeze again for about one more hour (this could take longer, depending on your freezer—check it every 10 or 15 minutes to monitor its progress). Remove from the freezer and stir again. Now you should be able to dig down to the bottom of the dish and scrape all of the mixture thoroughly until you achieve a pleasantly granular texture.  Freeze again, covered, and make the ice cream.

For the Condensed Milk Ice Cream:

The main ingredient comprises both dairy and sweetener so there is no need for added sugar.

8 ounces heavy cream

1   14 ounce can of condensed milk

8 ounces of whole fat milk

Heat cream and then add the condensed milk. Stir to dissolve completely. Cool for about 15 minutes and then add the milk, stirring to combine all ingredients. Freeze in an ice cream machine (either one that requires the canister to be frozen overnight before using it), or one that has a built-in coolant surrounding the bowl into which you place the ice cream mixture. If you have to wait a day to process the mixture into ice cream, make the mixture anyway, chill it covered in the refrigerator (it will “ripen,” or gain flavor complexity, to use ice cream parlance) and then freeze the mixture on the next day. Once the ice cream mixture has been frozen, scrape it into an airtight container and place in the freezer. Depending on how cold your freezer is, it may be necessary to remove the ice cream from the freezer and place in the refrigerator to soften it slightly before serving.

To serve, scoop the ice cream into chilled bowls. Top with Tea Granita (if necessary, break it up again with a fork to create a granular texture) and a cookie, crumbled, if you’d like. Take your bows quickly before everything melts. Enjoy!

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