Nothing says, “The holidays are upon us” more than a pumpkin spice latte. One of the most popular and talked-about holiday coffee beverages of the 21st Century is this sweet and aromatic warm treat that has become synonymous with the arrival of the fall season.
The perfect companion to your holiday shopping (now mostly being done online), a pumpkin spice latte combines elements of a traditional café latte — including espresso and hot milk — with the ingredients of pumpkin spice. The pumpkin spice latte has existed both with and without actual pumpkin, but pumpkin or no pumpkin; this holiday drink’s popularity has been undeniable.
WHY ARE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES SO POPULAR?
Contrary to what its name implies, pumpkin spice isn’t derived primarily from pumpkin, but rather, combines a variety of spices. Some versions of pumpkin spice have included actual pumpkin; some haven’t. The spices that comprise what we now know as pumpkin spice — including cinnamon, clove, allspice, and ginger — were first combined during the 20th Century and later adapted into “pumpkin pie spice” in the 1950s by the McCormick company.
However, the spice stuck mostly to actual pumpkin pies until coffee shops began experimenting with the flavor in the 90s and then, in 2003, Starbucks launched their first Pumpkin Spice Latte, AKA PSL, that took the world by storm.
But why did this flavor gain the cult following that crops up every Autumn? A combination of nostalgia, seasonally associated flavors, and an invented “limited-time” release could be the reason. Coffee shops often intentionally create scarcity for the product, making it only available during a specific period of the year. This period is also closely associated with the holiday season and sparks feelings of family, togetherness, and coziness that get peoples’ serotonin going. Mix that with the viral sensation of “graming” your PSL cup, and you’ve created the perfect storm of marketing.
But if you want to stick it to capitalism and enjoy your pumpkin spice all year long, we have the perfect recipe for you to brew it any time of year in your own kitchen!
PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE RECIPE
Forget standing in line or overpaying for this specialty drink — get ready to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with a pumpkin spice latte recipe that will get your bells jingling. All it takes is the right ingredients and equipment:
- 2 tablespoons, pumpkin purée
- 1/2 teaspoon, pumpkin pie spice. Use additional for garnish
- 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup cold heavy cream, whipped into firm crests
- 2 tablespoons, vanilla extract
- 2 cups, whole milk
- 1 to 2 shots, espresso (about 1/4 cup), or 1/3 to 1/2 cup strong coffee
- Mixer, whisk, or hand blender, to whip cream
- Wooden spoon
- Espresso maker or coffee maker
Although real pumpkin isn’t absolutely essential with a pumpkin spice latte, it makes the beverage extra special — and cooking the pumpkin is part of the fun when making a pumpkin spice latte at home. Take some inspiration from your Halloween pumpkin and gear up for the festive season ahead!
First, place the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and black pepper in a small saucepan on the stovetop and heat the combination on medium heat. Keep stirring constantly, and heat it for about two minutes. There are many different options when it comes to pumpkin pie spice; some versions, for example, include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, lemon peel, and cardamom.
Second, add sugar to the mixture, which should be taking on a syrup-like appearance at this point. Although white granulated or refined sugar is often used in pumpkin spice lattes, raw turbinado sugar can be used instead if one prefers.
Third, heat the milk in a separate saucepan, adding vanilla to it. And stir the milk constantly in order to make sure that it doesn’t boil over.
Fourth, combine the contents of the two saucepans to create a frothy mixture. One can do this using either a hand blender or a regular blender.
Fifth, make some type of coffee, be it espresso or non-espresso coffee — and after the coffee is ready, pour it into two coffee mugs. Then, add all of the ingredients that have been combined to the mugs. And top them with whipped cream and a touch of pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg or cinnamon.
The end result is two delicious pumpkin spice lattes to get you in the holiday mood.
Some variations are perfectly OK with this recipe. The milk, for example, could be anything from whole cow’s milk to 1% or skim cow’s milk to soy milk (either regular or vanilla) to almond milk. And there are many coffee options with pumpkin spice lattes, from light roasts to medium roasts to darker roasts.
But are you a pumpkin spice mega-fan? Pumpkin spice isn’t just limited to coffee beverages. True fans of the flavor have worked pumpkin spice into all sorts of treats, foods, and drinks. One of our personal favorites is creating a delicately spiced dessert with tiramisu.
PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE TIRAMISU RECIPE
This tiramisu recipe takes all the best elements of the drink but cranks the flavor up while allowing you to enjoy the warm, comforting flavors of pumpkin spice at any time of the year. Best of all, there’s no baking involved, so preparation is simple once you have all of the necessary ingredients.
- 16 ounces of mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup of canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 cup of strong-brewed coffee
- 1/4 cup of coffee liqueur
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 54 ladyfinger cookies (about 16 ounces)
- Cinnamon and chocolate shavings as toppings (optional)
Step 1: Mix your canned pumpkin, mascarpone cheese, brown sugar, and spices until everything is well-combined. In a second large bowl, use a frother or manually beat your cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract until fluffy peaks form. Finally, combine half of your whipped cream with your pumpkin mixture and refrigerate the remaining whipped cream.
There is a reason why pumpkin spice latte has become a holiday staple — it’s delicious and perfectly encapsulates the flavors of the fall and winter seasons. And with the right ingredients and equipment, this holiday favorite can be enjoyed and savored without leaving home.
Step 2: Brewing the right coffee is key to get an authentic pumpkin spice latte taste in your tiramisu. Grind high-quality coffee beans with a burr grinder so that you get an even, powdery result. Make sure you tamp your coffee grinds nice and tight for maximum flavor extraction. Finally, ensure you have thoroughly cleaned your espresso machine with a cleaning kit so that your coffee tastes its best. When all the prep is complete, brew a strong cup of coffee.
Step 3: Use a small bowl to combine your coffee and coffee liqueur. Give your ladyfinger biscuits a quick dunk into the mixture and arrange half of them in a single layer in a 13x9” dish or pan. Top your ladyfingers with half of your pumpkin mousse before adding the second layer of ladyfingers and then topping it with the remaining pumpkin mousse. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Step 4: Just prior to serving, pipe the remaining whipped cream on top of the tiramisu and add any optional ingredients like cinnamon and chocolate shavings. Serve the tiramisu slightly cool or at room temperature.
There is a reason why pumpkin spiced latte has become a holiday staple — it’s delicious and perfectly encapsulates the flavors of the fall and winter seasons. And with the right ingredients and equipment, this holiday favorite can be enjoyed and savored without leaving home.