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A Birthday Party, Part 2: Chai Latte Vanilla Pudding

November 24, 2010

When it comes to sweet dishes, I rarely venture beyond the breakfast realm. I hate baking and proportions with a passion, and since I rarely eat dessert, why bother making it?

Still, Carlen loves chai, and she loves gloopy desserts like tapioca and rice pudding, so I thought I would use this as an opportunity to try out a recipe I’d been mulling over in my head.

This is essentially an eggless, corn starch-thickened vanilla pudding, where the milk is first scaled with tea and spices.

It’s a work in progress, seeing as how it was… how shall we put this… an experiment.

Carlen enjoyed it, but I was unsure whether she was just being polite. The chai taste is spot on, but the texture could use some work. Plus, this is recipe is the epitome of the innovation and resourcefulness (a.k.a. DESPERATION) required for dorm room cooking. Read on to find out why (Hint: mesh laundry bags were involved).

Ingredients (Makes 4 meager portions—maybe this was because I strained so much out):

  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half (you could also just use 3 cups of whole milk)
  • ½ cup of honey (I used a million packets. Did you know Heinz makes honey?)
  • 4 Chai tea bags
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ cup cornstarch, dissolved in water
  • Chopped almonds and cinnamon to garnish


  • Heat the milk, tea bags, and whole spices in a pot. Let it come to a boil, then immediately lower the heat and simmer long enough so that the tea can steep.
  • Squeeze out the teabags and throw them out.
  • Add the honey and cornstarch, stirring continuously over low heat until the pudding has thickened. Add the vanilla, ground spices, and salt.
  • IT WAS AT THIS POINT WHERE EVERYTHING WENT WRONG. I must not have dissolved the cornstarch enough (I had no whisk), and the mixture was lumpy.

“If only I had a sieve or some cheesecloth,” I thought helplessly. Don’t ask me how I made this connection, but I thought: cheesecloth—mesh, mesh—laundry bag.

Oh, no, she did not.

Oh, yes, she most certainly did.

Hey, at least it worked. The pudding ended up almost too soupy, but the few remaining lumps lent it an almost tapioca-like texture (and Carlen loves tapioca pudding, so ha). Not ideal, but acceptable.

  • Refrigerate and portion into small cups (or in my case, yogurt containers). Garnish with chopped almonds and additional cinnamon.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2010 10:15 pm

    This is a very unique recipe that I will definitely be trying. Happy Holidays

    • octopuscarwash permalink*
      November 24, 2010 11:48 pm

      You too! Let me know how it goes (make sure to dissolve the corn starch!)

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