Sometimes, it’s fun to hop on a bandwagon and go with a trend. I’m a big fan of coffee, and even enjoy putting flavor in my coffee from time to time. With pumpkin spice lattes getting so much talk right now, I thought this was a great time to put it all together. At home. At a fraction of the cost of buying at a coffee shop. So, I checked our spice cupboard: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, star anise, and ginger (though it’s fresh ginger). We had enough coffee for the week anyway, plenty of sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Cream is a standing item , so I only needed to add canned pumpkin to husband’s shopping list. I waited for Saturday, and the arrival of groceries.
Then I read this article from Time Magazine. I tend to like my food minimally processed because I think it tastes better, however, Oaklander brings up a good point in her article: adding some spices to a frothy, hot, coffee based beverage does not make a tasty treat. Pumpkin pie is awesome because of all its ingredients: spices, eggs, milk, sugar, and, yes, the pumpkin itself. Starbucks, along with many other main stream businesses who come out with a pumpkin pie something every fall, emulate all the characteristics of a pumpkin pie. The silky texture, the warm spices used to counter-act pumpkin’s natural sour quality, and the richness of cream and eggs.
So I thought a little bit more. The recipe I had been conjuring up all week was really just sugar, canned pumpkin, vanilla extract, and spices. Eggs add a level of richness that can’t be beat. Fortunately, eggs are a standing item on our shopping list.
I made my spice mix myself. We’re huge fans of whole spices whenever possible, so I ground my own mix in my favorite mortar and pestle from IKEA. I omitted nutmeg (because I forgot) and ginger (because I was too lazy to work with fresh raw ginger). The Star Anise in my spice mix adds a level of sweetness that counters cinnamon’s bitter qualities. Allspice is an amazing base, and cloves just round everything out. You could substitute a ready-made pumpkin pie spice mix very easily, though it will be based on cinnamon and cloves. You could also use fresh pumpkin, roast or boil it to cook it, and puree it. We do most things from scratch, but, sometimes, it’s just not worth it to me.
- Ground Cinnamon
- Whole Allspice
- Whole Cloves
- Whole Star Anise
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 16 oz canned pumpkin
- 1 stick butter
- 2/3 plus two tablespoons sugar
- 2 eggs; 1 separated
Grind your whole spices. I did about 3:3:1:1 Cinnamon:Allspice:Cloves:Star Anise. The beauty of making your own mix is that you can adjust to your preference. In the end, you’ll want about 1 heaping tablespoon of spice mix. Less if you don’t like it so spicy. More if you like it spicy (though, I’m in that camp, and I find this to be quite pleasant).
Add the pumpkin to a pan of some sort, along with the butter and 2/3 cup of sugar (hold the two tablespoons aside for the eggs), salt, and spices. Set on the stove on low. I did way low because I was also cooking dinner, and can only split my attention so many ways. Heat until the butter is melted and well integrated. Do stir it frequently so the sugars don’t burn.
Separate one egg. You’re using the yolk for this. If you’re a waste not, want not kind of person, beat the egg white to turn it into a meringue cookie to have with your coffee. Add the other egg, the two tablespoons of sugar, and beat well. The sugar in the eggs at this point is important, as it will help keep your eggs from scrambling.
Here’s the tricky part: adding the eggs. Don’t go tossing them in with the mix right away. You’ll end up with scrambled eggs. Though I’m a big fan of scrambled eggs, in this instance, they’re not right for so very many reasons. Instead, temper your eggs by adding first a tablespoon of the warm pumpkin mix and beat well. Then add 1/3 cup of the warm pumpkin, and again, and again. This will slowly bring the eggs up to temperature without scrambling them.
Add the egg and pumpkin in with the rest of the pumpkin and mix well on the heat. Stir constantly, and heat until everything becomes super smooth. Pull off the heat, stir in the vanilla, and set aside. When it’s cooled, store in a mason jar for up to a week. Or freeze it into ice cube trays and then into a tub or bag to make it last longer.
But you don’t have to wait for this stuff to cool off to use it! Make a pot of coffee. I like a French Press. If you’re fancy and have an espresso machine at home, pull a shot. If you like drip coffee, go for it. K-Cup fan? Great. Add 2 tablespoons of your pumpkin mix to your cup, cream, and your coffee. I use heavy cream for the texture. It’s also more versatile in the kitchen during the week than half and half.
Smooth, rich, creamy, spicy, and sweet. The full amount of flavor of a pumpkin pie in your coffee, at home, for pennies. (I estimated the cost of the whole mix to be $5). The mix can be put into tea with cream to make a pumpkin pie spiced chai, drizzled over ice cream, or beaten with cream cheese to make a frosting. Milkshakes, smoothies, I’m sure I’m missing something. How will you use your homemade pumpkin pie flavoring?