We don’t just give technical financial advice on this blog. We do anything that helps you save money and live better (not to steal Walmart’s slogan…well actually, sort of. It’s a great slogan).
I am not ashamed of my love of fall and pumpkin spice. I’m okay with having some Basic White Girl tastes. I own it.
What I would be ashamed of is slinking in to Starbucks every week for a $5-$6 mediocre coffee “beverage.” While I do enjoy a triple shot wet cappuccino with the occasional trip out of town or coffee date with a friend, I prefer to save my money for things I like way more than over-priced, overly-sweetened bland lattes.
This recipe is very easy. Essentially, we’re making an extra-concentrated simple syrup (like you would use for mixing cocktails – a topic for another post!) with added flavors from the spices and vanilla. The medium-high heat at the beginning of the reduction is necessary to fully dissolve the sugar in the water, but DON’T bring it to a rolling boil!
With that said, here’s to fall and everything pumpkin-related. I may drop one or two of my other cherished (and original!) coffee syrup recipes as we head into the colder months.
GEORGI’S PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP
1¼ brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
1 Tb ground cinnamon (Saigon is my favorite)
¾ tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2¼ Tb vanilla
Heavy pinch of salt
6 Tb pumpkin puree (or 1/4 cup plus 2 Tb)
Directions: Combine water, sugars, and spices in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Stir it until it starts to simmer, but do not let it come to a rolling boil, as this can produce clumpy strands of sugar-spice snot, especially if you’re not stirring. While it may amuse the kids, it doesn’t make good syrup. Reduce heat to medium-low or low and let it simmer gently for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Note: If you are doubling the batch, be prepare for the reduction to take double the time.)
Taste the syrup to determine if it’s reduced enough. Appropriate descriptions include “gnarly” or “Whew, that’s strong,” NOT, “This is really sweet like McDonald’s iced tea.”
Now whisk in the pumpkin puree and cook a few minutes longer.
Turn the heat off and whisk in the vanilla.
From here you have a few different options for straining the solids out of your syrup:
Overachiever/make-life-harder method: Lay several layers of cheesecloth over a jar or other container and secure it around the lip of the container with a rubber band or two. Leave a little slack so the syrup has a place to sit. Gently coax the syrup through the cheesecloth with a spatula, one ladle-full at a time. When the syrup stops draining, scrape out the sludge and ladle more into the cheesecloth. Repeat.
Less-messy-but-still-tedious method: Use a fine mesh sieve over a wide-necked receptacle (a medium or deep-depth tupperware works well) to strain the syrup, one ladle-full at a time. When the syrup stops draining, scrape out the sludge and ladle more into the sieve. Repeat.
Slacker method (preferred): Pour the whole pot of syrup into an adequately sized tupperware. Let it sit on the counter until it stops steaming, then put the lid on and stick it in the fridge. Over the next 48-72 hours, the solids will settle to the bottom of the container…and you can just pour the syrup off the top into a new container.*
Storage: I suggest using a squeeze bottle, like a cleaned empty ketchup or mustard bottle, but if you have a food-safe glass bottle with a pump, then you’ll really impress your friends. You can keep this syrup on the counter for a couple weeks, but it keeps much longer in the fridge. I’d say 6 weeks. Don’t forget to label and date it.
Use: For coffee, any level of syrup to espresso ratio at least 50% below what they put in Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes is morally acceptable. 1 to 1½ Tb for a 12oz latte should be fine, but you can just eyeball it.
Note: Some large spice particles may still be in your syrup, and they will sink to the bottom. Just shake up the bottle before using.
Just a reminder…
Syrup in the cup first
Nifty trick: You can froth milk in your microwave! Fill a tupperware or jar no more than half full of milk. Secure the lid and shake vigorously for about 45 seconds, til the milk has doubled in volume. Remove the lid and microwave 30-45 seconds.
*I also have a theory, after preparing this syrup all three ways, that the slacker method makes the syrup stronger, as it gives the spices more time to imbue their flavor. But this has not been scientifically tested.
Enjoy the five dollars you saved by not buying a bland PSL from Starbucks!