As I share this with you, I am sitting cozy on my couch, tree lit, presents (mostly) wrapped, cradling a mug of pumpkin spiced goodness.
I have been trying to perfect this for a few weeks now... first, I came up with my own pumpkin spice blend using ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and so on. It was too gritty. I cut back on the spices and added vanilla. It wasn't rich enough. I tried with two tablespoons of pumpkin. Getting closer... but not quite right.
I needed to capture the rich spiciness without the gritty texture... then it dawned on me! A sugar syrup. You wouldn't think that this is such a jump since the big coffee shops use a sugar syrup as a flavour base in their drinks but it never occurred to me sooner that I should just make this at home too.
First, I needed to get my spice combination right.
For my ground pumpkin spice blend, I used:
8 parts ginger
6 parts cinnamon
2 parts nutmeg
2 parts all spice
1 part cloves
You can add a few parts brown sugar to this mixture for a sweetened version too but otherwise this is a good base for you to tweak to your own perfect combination.
I ventured out to a beautiful spice market that we have in Calgary called The Silk Road Spice Merchant. It is the most perfect place to shop for spices. Shelves upon shelves of carefully measured and jarred spices (whole or ground) and their own custom spice blends. I really is a beautiful sight... I could lose (and have lost) time in this place. I grabbed dried ginger, cinnamon bark, whole all spice berries and cloves... I had whole nutmeg at home.
I started a sugar syrup base on the stove... combining 2 cups of white sugar with 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and stir sugar to dissolve. Turn off heat.
For this amount of sugar syrup, I used a teaspoon measure for one part.
2 parts cinnamon bark
3 chunks (about three parts) dried ginger
1 nutmeg berry
1/2 part all spice (about nine berries)
1/2 part cloves (about seven cloves)
Break open your nutmeg berry, then add your whole spices to steep in the sugar syrup as though you were making tea.
Once your syrup is cool, you can taste the syrup to gauge the spice level, then remove the spices and transfer the syrup to jars. I opted to leave the whole spices in the sugar syrup to further intensify the flavours, then you're not forced to add more syrup (and sugar) than you would like in order to achieve the spice level that you desire.
For your latte...
Warm one cup of milk on the stove with two tablespoons of pumpkin puree, a teaspoon of vanilla and 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar syrup. Whisk together.
Brew your coffee or espresso. Once your milk mixture has heated through, transfer to a mug then add your coffee. You can top with whipped cream, if you're so inclined, or just a sprinkle of sweetened pumpkin spice. As you make more and more of these, you'll probably adjust the proportions to suit your particular taste - more or less pumpkin, more or less syrup, skim milk to 2%... and so on. It's not an exact science but a worthwhile experiment nonetheless.
Cradle mug and enjoy latte with smug satisfaction. That's an extra few dollars that gets to stay in your pocket.