From DIY Gifting, Season’s Steepings by Annelies Zijderveld

Illustrations by Jillian Schiavi

chai--spicesWarming spices scent the kitchen during the height of holiday baking season, so why not offer them in a spirited way. Golden-hued aged añejo rum provides a smooth foundation for this steeped spirit with its hint of deep, subtle sweetness from dried figs and kick of spice in the finish from masala chai. This spiced rum is a devilishly delicious spirit to sip, but try using it in a holiday take on a White Russian that omits the coffee liqueur. Or stir it up with ginger beer for a unique Dark and Stormy.

There are many masala (spice) chai (tea) blends on the market. Most have a hearty offering of cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon, and are likely to include star anise or black pepper, but spices used and concentration can vary, so look for one with complexity, where a single spice doesn’t dominate the flavor profile and the whole effect develops harmoniously on the palate. Keep in mind that the spices will intensify when infusing.

Note: Don’t toss those boozy figs when you’re done infusing. Chop them up and serve on a scoop of vanilla ice cream or bake them into a loaf of holiday bread.

2 masala chai tea bags (tags removed)
5 dried black mission figs
1 (750ml) bottle añejo rum
(I used Flor de Caña)

Toss the teabags into a large 32-ounce glass jar. De-stem the figs, slice into halves, and toss them into the jar. Pour the rum over the figs and tea bags in a swirling motion. Seal the jar and place in a cool, dark cupboard, allowing the tea to infuse into the rum for 1½ hours. Fish out the tea bags and press them to extract the liquid before discarding the bags. Seal the jar and leave the figs to infuse for 24 hours total before removing them. Pour the steeped rum into a large bowl using a fine mesh strainer to capture any lingering fig seeds, then pour it into a glass bottle, seal, and store in your liquor cabinet.