Tamal Ray’s recipe for chai-spiced mousse with caramelised pecans

Ibecame slightly obsessed with masala chai, that heady Indian infusion of spices and tea leaves, when I was backpacking through India, and especially those tiny clay cups of heavily sweetened tea that were served on trains. Now I always have a ready supply of spices on hand to make my own at home, but why stick to just tea when there are puddings to be made, too?

Chai-spiced mousse with caramelised pecans
If you end up overwhipping the cream before adding it to the custard, just stir through a little more fresh cream until the mix is liquid again.

Prep 20 min
Infuse 1-2 hr
Cook 25 min
Chill 4 hr
Makes 6

For the mousse
250ml whole milk
5 black peppercorns
1 10g cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 green cardamom pods
5g fresh ginger
70g dark muscovado sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water
250ml double cream

For the pecans
15 bay leaves
100g caster sugar
50g whole pecans

Pour the milk into a small saucepan for which you have a lid, add all the whole spices and ginger, and bring up to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for one to two hours.

Now make the caramel for the pecans. Put the bay leaves, caster sugar and 75ml water in another small saucepan, simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until the sugar has dissolved, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for one to two hours.

Pour the infused milk through a sieve to catch the spent spices, then return it to the saucepan with the sugar and egg yolks. Warm over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for a few minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken, then turn off the heat and leave to cool for five minutes. Shake any excess water off the soaked gelatine, then stir it into the warm milk mix.

When the custard mixture is lukewarm, whisk the cream until light and airy, but still liquid (see introduction above), then stir it through the spiced custard until evenly mixed in. Pour into six ramekins and refrigerate for four hours, to set.

Meanwhile, lay the pecans on an oven tray lined with foil and roast them in a 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 oven for six minutes until toasted and browned. Remove and discard the bay leaves from the sugar syrup, then set it on a medium high heat and boil for six to eight minutes, until it turns amber in colour. Pour the syrup over the roasted pecans and leave to cool.

To finish, roughly chop the caramelised pecans, sprinkle them over the mousses and serve.