Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup
I was under the impression that there were no Pumpkin Spice Lattes at the Starbuckses here in Paris since my friends seemed to already be enjoying them back home and I hadn’t seen them advertised at all in the city. It makes sense, since the French aversion to cinnamon is well-documented, and there’s no pumpkin pie tradition here like there is in the States and Canada. Oh sure, there are lots of huge, knobbly pumpkins around at the markets, but I don’t think anyone’s using them in sweets.
Despite my best friend being a froth slave under the little green mermaid, I’ve never been a huge fan of Starbucks. Honestly, I prefer to make my own French press or pour-over coffee, and there are better places to go for $4 espresso drinks. But I could never resist Pumpkin Spice Latte season. I remember when my office friends and I would make special trips for an afternoon pick-me-up of extra-sweet, pumpkin spicy goodness. Every once in a while one of us would bring a four-cup caddy to work first thing in the morning to share with our little clan, and it was the best possible way to start off a day at our windowless, flourescent-lit desks.
I had already made this syrup and enjoyed many many coffees spiked with the stuff before I found out that France will, indeed, get Pumpkin Spice Lattes after all, but not until October. Now that I’ve made the homemade version, though, I don’t think I’ll even need to get the original from the mermaid. I like that I can customize exactly how sweet my drink is without having to make one of those dreaded extra-specific coffee orders, and it’s lovely to wake up in the morning and have a little treat like this without having to get out of my pajamas.
Plus, I get to use my favorite new teacup. Good morning, little courtiers.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion.
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon whole nutmeg, ground or broken into pieces
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons candied ginger (approximate) or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons canned or homemade pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Meanwhile, in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger and process until the entire mass is powdery or in very small pieces. Add to the sugar mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove the sugar and spice mixture from the heat and whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Allow it to cool for another 5 minutes or so, then strain it through a fine-mesh sieve or through a couple layers of cheesecloth until no noticeable lumps remain. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
To make coffee drinks, add 1-2 tablespoons of the syrup to espresso before adding steamed milk, stir it into your drip or French press coffee, or mix into cold-brewed coffee before pouring over ice and mixing with milk for an iced latte. Taste and adjust to your liking and top with foam, whipped cream, and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
You can adjust the spice ratios however you like. I’m a big fan of cinnamon, so I go quite heavy on it here, but you can cut it back or add more of another spice that you enjoy more.
The syrup will have a slightly odd texture that seems a bit slimy. This is fine. As long as you don’t cook the pumpkin after you add it to the hot sugar, it shouldn’t get too thick and will melt into the coffee easily.
This syrup makes great gifts for coffee lovers! Seal it up in a jar or bottle and give it to a friend who deserve a treat.
Music to cook by: Not Your Year [The Weepies // Say I Am You]