Edible San Luis Obispo Winter 2013 : Page 38

artisanal Chai California’s Perfect C hai lattes in winter are the equivalent of cold watermelon in summer—it simply doesn’t get much better. The scents of cardamom, cinnamon and clove waft up from your cup, bringing to mind visions of holidays spent by the fire and cookies await-ing their exit from the oven. BY TAYLOR MICAELA DAVIS Powders and mixes for this toe-warming brew abound at markets around California, but few can stand up to the mastery and per-fection of California Chai, a San Luis Obispo company owned by partners Chris Tarcon and James Whitaker. Almost two years ago, the drink duo were serving a latte made with a high-concentrate liquid chai tea titled SLO Chai, when Joel Pace, SLO Chai’s owner, was looking to sell the company. The aromatic amalgams sold like hotcakes, so Chris and James swooped in to create California Chai, while still remain-ing true to Joel’s perfected brewing method. Each 144-gallon batch is hand-steeped in cus-tom-made brewing equipment, combining several perfectly melded herbs and spices, in-cluding pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, with just a hint of clove and orange peel, among other secret ingredients. This deliciously spicy-sweet concoction is then blended with the highest-quality Indian masala tea and boiling water. Creamy vanilla and tangy honey are added at strictly timed intervals for an optimal dissolving rate, creating a spicy sweet tea so balanced that it’s hard to believe it didn’t ar-rive straight from India. Joel spent years with highly regarded chai wallahs in India, melding century-old tech-niques and spice recipes into his flawless fu-sion, preferring small batches to ensure identical quality to that of an Indian chai. Upon his return, he began to share his chai with California coffee houses and smaller markets, creating quite a following. With such an artful preparation and a watch-ful eye for consistency, the famous California Chai Tea Latte is nothing less than chem-istry—three simple ingredients combine for the ideal beverage, whether hot or iced. 38 | EDIBLE SAN LUIS OBISPO | WINTER / EARLY SPRING 2013 Photo credit: istockphotos.com

Artisanal

By Taylor Micaela Davis

California's Perfect<br /> <br /> Chai<br /> <br /> Chai lattes in winter are the equivalent of cold watermelon in summer – it simply doesn't get much better. The scents of cardamom, cinnamon and clove waft up from your cup, bringing to mind visions of holidays spent by the fire and cookies awaiting their exit from the oven.<br /> <br /> Powders and mixes for this toe-warming brew abound at markets around California, but few can stand up to the mastery and perfection of California Chai, a San Luis Obispo company owned by partners Chris Tarcon and James Whitaker.<br /> <br /> Almost two years ago, the drink duo were serving a latte made with a high-concentrate liquid chai tea titled SLO Chai, when Joel Pace, SLO Chai's owner, was looking to sell the company. The aromatic amalgams sold like hotcakes, so Chris and James swooped in to create California Chai, while still remaining true to Joel's perfected brewing method.<br /> <br /> Each 144-gallon batch is hand-steeped in custom-made brewing equipment, combining several perfectly melded herbs and spices, including pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, with just a hint of clove and orange peel, among other secret ingredients. This deliciously spicy-sweet concoction is then blended with the highest-quality Indian masala tea and boiling water. Creamy vanilla and tangy honey are added at strictly timed intervals for an optimal dissolving rate, creating a spicy sweet tea so balanced that it's hard to believe it didn't arrive straight from India.<br /> <br /> Joel spent years with highly regarded chai wallahs in India, melding century-old techniques and spice recipes into his flawless fusion, preferring small batches to ensure identical quality to that of an Indian chai. Upon his return, he began to share his chai with California coffee houses and smaller markets, creating quite a following.<br /> <br /> With such an artful preparation and a watchful eye for consistency, the famous California Chai Tea Latte is nothing less than chemistry – three simple ingredients combine for the ideal beverage, whether hot or iced.<br /> <br /> "By far our most popular drink to make with California Chai is a chai latte," says the master of the beverage, Chris. "It is best prepared by using 60% California Chai concentrate and 40% steamed milk, with a little dusting of nutmeg on top – served in a diner mug." A recipe fit for every café and kitchen.<br /> <br /> Better yet, the folks at California Chai provide options for how to "spice up" their already delicious chai. Beverages such as the "chider" (equal parts apple cider and California chai) put us in automatic cozy-up-to-a-fireplace mode, while the Chai Scotch (equal parts chai and Scotch whiskey) is sure to warm you from the inside out. More recipes are available at CaliforniaChai.com.<br /> <br /> Need a little California Chai in your life? The bottled ambrosia can be found at local coffee shops and health food stores, such as Blackhorse Espresso and Louisa's Place. Or, you could always just buy a bottle all to yourself. Sharing is encouraged, but not required. Drink up!<br /> <br /> Taylor Micaela Davis is a writer and editor based in Santa Barbara. Her love for food stems from years of helping her family in the kitchen, and her own need to "spice things up." When she isn't all-consumed with food writing, she reports on Santa Barbara's arts and culture scene.<br /> <br /> APRICOT-PISTACHIO SCONES WITH CALIFORNIA CHAI GLAZE<br /> <br /> Yield: 16 scones<br /> <br /> Recipe by Just Baked SLO, JustBakedSLO.com<br /> <br /> Scones<br /> <br /> 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) cold butter + 2 tablespoons<br /> melted butter (for brushing scones)<br /> 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour<br /> 1/3 cup granulated sugar<br /> 1 tablespoon baking powder<br /> 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt<br /> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon<br /> 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom<br /> 1 cup chopped dried apricots<br /> 1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts (toasted and salted), roughly chopped<br /> 1 cup heavy cream<br /> <br /> Glaze<br /> 1 cup California Chai<br /> 1 cup confectioner's sugar<br /> 1 pinch kosher salt<br /> 1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts (toasted and salted), finely chopped (optional)<br /> <br /> Begin by grating the 11/2 sticks of butter onto a plate using the large holes of a box grater, and place in freezer to chill while you assemble the dry ingredients.<br /> <br /> In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Add the apricots and pistachios and stir to distribute evenly.<br /> <br /> Add the grated butter to the flour mixture and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until the butter is evenly distributed. Slowly add the heavy cream and mix just until a dough begins to form (the flour will not be completely incorporated at this stage). Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it a few times to finish incorporating the flour, folding the dough over on itself to create layers as you knead.<br /> <br /> Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten the dough to 1 inch thick, and use a sharp knife or biscuit cutter to cut scones into desired shapes. Place scones on a parchment-lined sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400°.<br /> <br /> Brush chilled scones with melted butter, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.<br /> <br /> While the scones bake, make the glaze: Pour the California Chai into a small saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce down to 1/4 cup. Allow to cool. Place the confectioner's sugar and salt into a bowl and whisk in the reduced California Chai to make a pourable glaze.<br /> <br /> When the scones come out of the oven, drizzle them with the glaze and sprinkle with chopped pistachios (if using).

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