Friday, October 7, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Blog by Alisa
I like a good Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte as much as the next coffee addict with an appreciation for pumpkin pie. What I'm not so crazy about is the five bucks I have to let go of with each grande-size cup of Fall-spiked elixir. Since I'm no stranger to the kitchen or how to brew a great cup of coffee, I decided I can overcome the fact that the Starbucks recipe for pumpkin spice latte is not readily known. So what if Google yields 152, 000 entries for 'pumpkin spice latte recipe'? Piece of cake. Or maybe, 'easy as pie!' Did I mention one hundred and fifty two thousand recipe entries? After culling through several pages of vastly different and curiously similar recipes, I narrowed it down to three possibilities.

The first two recipes were such losers that I didn't even bother with photographic evidence of them. They went down the drain faster than my camera could make an appearance. Next!! However, I will tell you the general methods so that you can walk a wide berth around them if you happen to see similar recipes and get curious. Remember, "Next!!" I'm not kidding. You've been warned. The first of the two disaster lattes was true enough to its  description. It was espresso and hot milk seasoned only with the classic flavors of pumpkin pie spice: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Okay, I'll cut it a little slack here and say that it wasn't truly a disaster, as far as a latte goes, but it was not a contender for the flavor I was chasing. Why? Because there was not even the slightest hint of actual pumpkin flavor. That occurred to me when I was reading over the recipe, but I can't knock it if I don't try it, right? Well, I tried it, and that entitles me to knock it. Next! The second attempt qualified not only as a disaster, but as a catastrophe. Catastrophic disaster. Disastrous catastrophe. Take your pick. It was terrible. It was essentially the same ingredients as the recipe before it, with the horrific inclusion of canned pumpkin puree. My trusty gag reflex let me down and did not go off until it was too late. I don't care how much one whisks the puree into the hot espresso, it is still pumpkin puree in espresso. I'll spare you the description of how a smooth latte is brought to certain ruin with the seemingly innocent addition of a puree. Gag. NEXT!!

Finally, I arrived at the recipe that I suspected from the beginning as being the winner. It just made the most the sense. It was also the most labor-intensive, so I saved it for last. Every description I'd seen for the actual Starbucks latte mentioned the use of a pumpkin flavored syrup. At first, I was denigrating my rural town's inaccessibility to almost anything that could be remotely considered as a gourmet culinary item. Nearly seven years here and I haven't seen a package of spring roll wrappers for hundreds of miles.  But I digress..... In the end, it was the rural inaccessibility that forced me into not taking the path of least resistance. I could not find pumpkin flavored syrup anywhere. Not a surprise. So I made my own.  This is it, people! This is all you need to have your latte and afford it, too.

Here's all you need to create this most awesome of Fall treats in your own kitchen:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional, but you'll thank me later if you add this)
1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

Clean cheesecloth or strainer with fine mesh
Whisk together the sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and heat on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, and add the cinnamon sticks. Bring the mixture up to just under a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes or until your syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove saucepan from heat and allow syrup to cool for 10 to 15 minutes. If using cheescloth, use a piece that has been folded three times. Place the cheesecloth over the opening of the storage container of your choice. If using the fine mesh strainer, be sure to have a spoon handy to stir the mixture around and aid the syrup's drainage into the container (the puree is thick!). Remove the cinnamon sticks and strain your syrup into the storage container. I used a 16 ounce plastic Ball freezer container because it has a twist-on lid to help prevent spills. Refrigerate your syrup and it will keep for weeks.

To make a pumpkin spice latte, you'll need:

3/4 cup freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee (bold French or Italian roasts work fine)
1/2 hot milk
2 tbsp pumpkin syrup (more or less to suit your taste)
Whipped cream
Ground pumpkin pie spice

In a mug, add the first three ingredients, top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and a light dusting of pumpkin pie spice blend. ENJOY!


  1. Kim said: Another recipe I shall make! Thank you 'o queen of the coffee elixirs!

  2. Finally i think girls are greedy ! lol!
    Anyway, very good article !:)