This recipe is a bit time-consuming and very hands-on, but it is absolutely worth every bit of effort. With butter, cinnamon, cream, and toasty hazelnuts and almonds, combined with the warmth of black chai spices, this pie is autumn dessert heaven. (Note that this recipe calls for at least two hours in the freezer.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place nuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, checking them often. Remove from oven and allow them to cool and remove the skins from the hazelnuts. Finely chop both hazelnuts and almonds.
3. Place the graham crackers in a resealable bag and crush into fine crumbs using a rolling pin or bottom of a glass.
4. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, chopped nuts (reserve some of the hazelnuts for a finishing garnish), brown sugar, and melted butter until well combined. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a greased springform pan. Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove from heat and let cool.
5. In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan, mix together the cornstarch and brown sugar. Add one cup of cold milk and mix well until no clumps remain. Turn on medium heat and gradually add the rest of the milk, stirring constantly and cooking until bubbly (but not boiling). Cook for 2 more minutes and remove from heat. Add cinnamon and stir.
6. In the bowl set aside with the beaten eggs, gradually add one cup of the milk mixture and mix until combined. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan. Cook the pudding mix until almost bubbly, but don’t allow to boil. Reduce heat and cook for two more minutes, then remove from heat.
7. Add in the butter and vanilla, and stir. Pour the pudding mix into the pie crust, and place in the freezer for a couple of hours, until frozen through.
When you are ready to make the chai whipped cream, place the cream, chai concentrate, mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
8. Remove ingredients from freezer and pour the whipping cream and chai concentrate into the chilled bowl. Beat on high until weak peaks are formed, about 1 minute.
9. Spread whipped cream over the pudding layer and garnish with extra toasted hazelnuts or graham cracker crumbs. Store in the freezer, allowing to thaw for at least 20 minutes before serving.