Food & Drink: Spice It Up

It’s pumpkin spice latte time

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Pumpkin spices have been used together for centuries, but lately, they’ve become a major food trend. Photo by Ari LeVaux.

Until about 14 years ago, the pumpkin spices stayed in familiar culinary territory, adding their aromatic flavors to pies, cookies and the occasional glass of holiday eggnog. It was an open secret among adventurous chefs that the spices could be applied elsewhere, but doing so was rarely the selling point that it is today.

The pumpkin spice latte was introduced by Starbucks in 2003. Since then, more than 200 million of them have been sold, and the pumpkin spice umbrella has grown far beyond the coffee chain. Pumpkin spices have become a major food trend, anointing about $500 million worth of food (and candle, soap and swag) products annually. A batch of pumpkin spices is typically about half cinnamon, followed by smaller amounts of ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. I followed the guidance of an enthusiastic YouTuber, TalkBeckyTalk, and learned her method for a homemade pumpkin spice latte from scratch. Her spice mix is nutmeg-heavy and clove-free, with added black pepper. Enjoy.

TalkBeckyTalk’s Recipe

Start with a pie pumpkin or any other squash that’s good for baking, like acorn, kabocha or blue hubbard, to name a few. Peel it with a sturdy, sharp knife, clean out the seeds and innards and cut up the meat into one-inch chunks. Arrange a pound of the pumpkin/squash chunks in a baking pan, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon allspice, a heaping teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of black pepper and one whole freshly-ground nutmeg. Add a tablespoon of vanilla extract, three ounces soft brown sugar, and four tablespoons maple syrup. Add 1/3 cup water, stir it up really well with a spatula, cover in foil and bake at 350 for 50 minutes, until the pumpkin is nice and soft. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

Put the remains in a saucepan, boil for 10 minutes, and allow to cool. Add water (I used almond milk) to dilute if it’s too thick, and blend until it is smooth and silky. Pour into a sealable glass jar.

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