Many of my friends have been posting excitedly about the advent of that seasonal deliciousness known as S*bucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I used to love most things produced by S*bucks but somewhere along the way of our healthier living baby-steps journey more and more of their drinks have been falling short of what used to be the height of my drinkable cravings. Part of the problem is that I have become a coffee snob. (deep breath) There. I said it. The coffee at this mass-produced-cookie-cutter-box-store-of-consistency tends to be both bitter and acidic to my tastebuds now. In order to cover for this unpleasantness large amounts of flavored and sugary syrups tend to be added to their mixed drinks. The second confession is that my tastebuds have changed so much that the high pitched flavor of the syrups they use seems *too* sickly sweetish to me now. (This is coming from the girl who used to mix extra honey or sugar in because it wasn’t sweet enough. Oh how far I’ve come!)
All of the above to say, it’s not only significantly cheaper for me to indulge in my coffee habit at home now (Or at my favorite independent coffee shop in Nashville that is a bi-monthly treat/splurge these days) it also usually tastes better! Low acid, smooth roasted organic beans turned into a deep-rich-brew (All the flavor without the bitterness, unless I mess up the water temp/coffee ratios of course) with my own concoctions of flavorings and syrups added to has become my preferred way of drinking coffee.
Last night I made my first attempt at a knock-off version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I found what looked to be a great basic recipe and proceeded to make some massive modifications to it. I’m quite pleased with the results. Please keep in mind, if you prefer the really sweet taste of the S*bucks version of this drink you will want to modify my recipe to include more sugar, or drizzle some extra caramel sauce over the top.
Sorta-Kinda-Healthy-Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup
– 1 and 1/2 Cups of Water
– 2/3 Cup Raw-un-refined Cane Sugar
– 1/2 Cup raw Honey
– 5 Cinnamon Sticks (Or 1 Tablespoon+ a bit Ground)
– 1/2 (or more if you like Ginger as much as I do) Teaspoon Dried/powdered Ginger
– 1/2 Teaspoon whole Cardamon
– 1 heaping Teaspoon whole AllSpice
– Optional: 1/2 Teaspoon Clove
-Optional: 1 Teaspoon Nutmeg
(I personally left both the clove and nutmeg out of my version of this since I prefer the flavors of Cardamon and All-spice)
3 to 4 Tablespoons Organic Pumpkin Puree. Can use canned or frozen, just make sure it’s been well strained if it’s homemade-put up pumpkin.
Instructions: Simmer water and spices together on low for 30 min. to allow flavors to develop. Add Raw Sugar, Honey and Pumpkin to mixture. Whisk in until well mixed and sugar is dissolved. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and see if the spice ratio needs to be adjusted to suit your personal preferences. If the flavor is all you expect it to be remove the syrup from the stove and strain through a piece of cheese cloth *or* a fine metal mesh strainer. I personally used two old Berrywell bottles to store my finished syrup product in. Easy to label and store in the refrigerator and even easier to pour precise amounts from into my coffee as needed.
I *love* this stuff. Much richer, more real and earthier flavors than I’ve experienced anywhere else which suit my new tastebuds just fine. Add as much syrup to your latte or coffee as you desire + a dollup of cream with some whipped cream added to the top. If you are after a truly decadent and sweet experience drizzle a homemade caramel sauce on top of the whipped cream.
Aaaah. So.Amazing. In addition to tasting like something that should be banned from any health-nuts list of food items you can help justify this homemade delicacy by the reality that all of the spices used in it are incredibly powerful immune boosters. If you take the time to simmer it long enough a lot of the medicinal properties will have time to be released and infused into the syrup making it truly justifiable as colds and flu’s begin to make their rounds.
If you think I’m jumping the gun on celebrating Fall allow me to explain why I feel justified in doing so. First of all, the leaves around here have started to change their colors and gently drift down and there is a wondrous crispness in the air in the mornings and evenings. Second of all, I am due to have a baby right smack in the middle of what is traditionally the most enjoyable part of Fall so I’ve decided to get a jump start on all things Fall and enjoy them as much as I can before my days are taken up with post partum recovery and snuggles with a newborn babe. (Happy sigh) I can’t wait! :D