Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Creamy Chai Smoothie


There's nothing quite like a cold smoothie on a hot day. Except maybe a cold milkshake on a hot day- but don't worry, this smoothie is as creamy as any milkshake! We've been having a bit of a mini heat wave here in New York, so I whipped up these smoothies last weekend to beat the heat. 


I love a good fruity smoothie, tropical mango-kiwi, or sweet strawberry-coconut, but my newest smoothie find is creamy date smoothies. My favorite smoothie shop whips up a mean date-almond-banana-cocoa-coffee smoothie that I adore, but I had something else in mind. 


I'm not a big coffee person, but I love tea. I like all tea, from matcha to hibiscus to earl grey to rooibos. My favorite morning wake up tea is a nice spicy chai. So I thought, why not make a creamy banana-date-chai smoothie? Turn my favorite breakfast drink into a a meal (or dessert!). 


I used Tea Pigs Chai, but you can use any type of chai you prefer. When I lived in Washington State, I used to make my own chai mix from loose black tea and spices I would buy from a quaint little spice shop downtown. My favorite combination was clove, cardamom, star anise, black peppercorn, and extra cinnamon. I liked to make mine super spicy, but I think any chai would be delicious in this smoothie. 


The best chai I've ever had was in Portland, Oregon. I don't usually like to talk up Portland because everyone already knows Portland is great, and the Northwest has so many wonderful but overlooked towns, but I have to give credit where it's due. The wonderful chai I had in Portland came from Spella Caffe, but back then it was just a little street cart, not a brick and mortar cafe. 



The man in the cart made the chai to order while you stood on the corner waiting in the chilly morning air, mixing together a melange of spices and boiling them up, then carefully pulling the chai- pouring it from pot to pot, moving his hands farther and farther apart until he was pouring the chai about 4 feet from pot to pot. Then he poured it off into a cup and passed it to me. That first spicy-sweet-clovey-cardamom-y sip was like a sublime revelation. 


This smoothie takes that same spicy-sweet complex chai flavor and pairs it with caramel-y dates and creamy coconut, a heavenly pairing. The spiciness of the chai really plays well with the mellow banana and coconut, and the caramel flavor of the dates adds just the right amount of sweetness to the chai. 


S and I sipped these smoothies for breakfast, but we agreed they would also make a brilliantly decadent, yet healthy, dessert. This recipe makes two generous pint size smoothies, but could easily be stretched to four servings, especially if being served as a dessert or snack. Enjoy!



Creamy Chai Smoothie
Makes 2 pint size smoothies

12 oz boiling water
3 teabags of your favorite chai
3 oz pitted dates + 1 C water
2 bananas
1/2 C coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


There are two do-ahead steps for this smoothie. You can do these the night before you want to make the smoothie, or as much as 3 or 4 days before. 

Date Paste: Place the dates in a bowl and pour 1 C warm water over them. Allow to soak for 1-2 hours, then put the dates and about 2 tbsp of the soaking water in a food processor and process until smooth. Scrape into a bowl or tupperware and keep in the fridge until you need it. 

Chai ice cubes: boil 12 oz water, pour into a heat-resistant measuring cup, add the three chai teabags, and allow to steep 3-4 minutes. Remove tea bags, give them a little squeeze to get any extra chai out, and discard the tea bags. If using plastic ice cube trays, allow the tea to cool a bit before filling, if using silicone ice cube trays, you can fill the ice cube tray right away. Pop them in the freezer until frozen solid. I was able to make 9 ice cubes in my tray.

When your ice is frozen, your date paste is made, and you're ready to make your smoothie, place the bananas, chai ice cubes, and date paste in a blender, pour the vanilla extract and the coconut milk in, put on the lid and blend on high until smooth. 

Pour into two pint glasses and serve immediately. Enjoy!




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