SUNDAE SUNDAY: Apples and streusel and chai (oh my) ice cream sundae


Chai, the winner of this week’s head-to-head sundae theme match-up over on my Instagram Stories, has been a flavor I’ve relied on in chocolate truffles before, but I hadn’t delved into frozen dessert territory with the tea until now.  Boy, am I sorry I’ve waited so long to try it out.

When I sampled the ice cream as it emerged from the machine this morning, I changed gears with the sundae concept I originally had in mind (something in the realm of profiteroles), because I wanted to ensure this ice cream stood unabashedly front and center in whatever I created.  

In that vein, I quickly cooked up an apple with sugar and spices (similar to what you’d find in an apple pie filling), and baked brown sugar streusel to incorporate a “crunch” element to offset the creamy main event. Frankly, I could go either way with the apples in this dish, but the streusel with the chai ice cream? Simply delightful.

Side notes:

  • The streusel was made with almond flour, so this sundae remains wheat-free. (And for those who don’t seek out gluten-free options, just know the streusel is crunchy and delicious.)

  • You can sub out the apples and sub in a drizzle of my apple cider caramel sauce if you’re craving another element to the sundae or don’t have apples on hand.


Apples and streusel and chai (oh my) ice cream sundae

By: Kathleen Hayes; adaptations and yields listed by component below

Baker’s notes: my Sundae Sunday recipes are on-the-fly in nature, so they’re not as thoroughly tested as other recipes on the site.  If making again, I’d omit the apples and double down on the ice cream and streusel combination, pairing those with either a warm caramel or chocolate sauce and possibly a whipped cardamom cream.

Chai vanilla ice cream - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book; yield = 1 quart


  • 452g heavy cream

  • 226g whole milk

  • 140g (organic) sugar

  • 45g (organic) brown sugar

  • 48g egg yolks (~3 eggs)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla paste

  • 2 chai tea bags (I used Teapigs)

  • 3 pinches of kosher salt


  • Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt.  Heat over medium or medium-high until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat.

  • Place tea bags in the dairy mixture, cover the saucepan with plastic wrap, and let sit (infuse) for 20 minutes.  Discard plastic wrap, but save the tea bags for a later step.

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together your sugar and egg yolks until combined. This will form a thick paste.  

  • Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼  - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together.  Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture back into your saucepan.

  • Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 170 - 172 F, then pour your mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath.  Add the vanilla paste to the base.

  • Place your tea bags back into the final mixture, stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature.  Remove tea bags, then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

  • Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish and spatula in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.  

  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream.

  • If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to chilled baking dish and let it set for a few hours.

Sautéed apples - yield = ½ cup per apple (scale this up based on how many apples you have)


Per apple used

  • 1 apple

  • ½ tablespoon butter

  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar

  • ⅛ teaspoon cardamom

  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  • Cut apple into ½” - 1” cubes (or wedges if you prefer).

  • Warm butter in a skillet or frying pan, then add all ingredients to the pan.

  • Cook over medium heat for 7-9 minutes until apples have softened.

  • Set aside until ready to compose the sundae.

Brown sugar streusel (gluten-free) - adapted from King Arthur Flour; yield = slightly more than 1 cup


  • 50g butter, cubed

  • 50g almond flour

  • 50g (organic) brown sugar

  • 25g rolled oats

  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  • Preheat oven to 338 degrees F or nearest interval.

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.  

  • With your fingers or a pastry blender, break up the butter and mix together the ingredients until it resembles coarse crumbs.

  • Bake on a parchment-lined sheet tray until crisp and golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. (Next time I would crank up the heat and cook for a shorter period of time.)

Special equipment



  • In a bowl, scoop several scoops of chai ice cream, dot with apple pieces, and top with streusel.  Optionally, drizzle on some apple cider caramel sauce (recipe HERE).

  • If using a sundae dish, alternate layers of ice cream, apples, and streusel until dish is full, finishing with a sprinkling of streusel and optional drizzle of caramel.


  • Swap out apples and streusel and simply drizzle ice cream with milk chocolate sauce instead.

  • While I won’t do this because I’m not a pumpkin dessert fan, the spices in the ice cream would pair quite nicely with pumpkin bread or pumpkin / squash pie.

  • Serve as a chai float by combining this and chai tea.


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