The other day, as we passed by an unnecessarily large pumpkin spice latte sign in front of Tully’s, Jeff asked me why pumpkin spice products were not available all year round. It’s not like pumpkin spice syrup is seasonal. And most “pumpkin” products aren’t even made from real pumpkins in the first place! Is it all just one big illusion? Oh, I love when he gets all philosophical.
It’s true. Pumpkin spice products are a marketing ploy. But a beloved one at that. Pumpkin spice season comes and goes with comforting certainty every year. Rather than lamenting about the impending gloom of winter yet to come, we are distracted by the cheery prospects of pumpkin spice lattes, scones, breads, ice cream, smoothies, cakes, and more. Now where’s the harm in that!
I defend pumpkin spice products because I am an avid consumer of them. But they really start to add up after a while, $3 here and $4 there. I realized that once you have a basic pumpkin pie spice blend, it’s really easy to make your own version of pumpkin spice products, including the ever popular latte.
Pumpkin spice blends usually include a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves OR allspice. The recipe I’ve included below will be enough to last you through the season, or beyond if you wish! If you want a pumpkin spice latte in June, more power to you. You can either purchase pre-ground spices or grind them yourself, depending on the level of effort you want to put into it.
I first saw the recipe for the pumpkin spice latte from a delightful blog called Daily Nibbles. Since the recipe uses real pumpkin (either canned or fresh), the latte tastes very vibrant and fresh. I used a stovetop percolator (such as a Bialetti) for the espresso shots, but you can also use strongly brewed coffee instead. The original recipe called for vanilla extract, but I think it gives the latte a bitter aftertaste because the alcohol doesn’t get cooked off. If you still want that vanilla flavor, I recommend scraping some vanilla beans into the milk while it is heating, using vanilla soy milk, or replacing the normal sugar in the recipe with vanilla sugar.
Finally, I am a huge advocate for using soy milk in lattes, but I know this isn’t everyone’s thing. I’ll just say that vanilla soy tastes fabulous in a pumpkin spice latte. If you decide to use a flavored soy milk, just remember to cut down on the sugar you add. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
Yield: 25 servings
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- Mix all of the spices together and keep in an airtight container. Use as needed.
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin (canned or fresh)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (recipe above) or store-bought mix*
- 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee if you don’t have an espresso machine or percolator
- In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until you see steam rising from the milk.
- Remove from heat, stir in pumpkin pie spice, transfer to a blender and pulse for 15 seconds until foamy. Alternately, you can use a handheld frother if you have one.
- Pour milk mixture into a large mug and top with the espresso. Top with whipped cream or extra spices if you wish.
*If you don’t want to make a big batch of pumpkin pie spice, this will make about 1 teaspoon: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves.