It’s that time of year!
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has become the harbinger of fall. Now, if you ask me… middle of August may be a little early to start thinking all things fall, but I’m not going to complain. I have been a fan of the PSL for the longest time, but since doing my Whole30 in January, I’ve really been re-evaluating what foods go into my body.
Where’s the Pumpkin?
Because the syrup used in a commercially made PSL needs to be shelf-stable, it has a whole lot of extra stuff in it. Various preservatives, cheap sweeteners, artificial flavors, etc. Take a look at a side-by-side comparison between McD’s and ‘bucks PSL:
Personally, I was surprised that people thought that there *was* pumpkin in a PSL and depending on your tastes, the lack of pumpkin may not be an issue. For some folks, it really is all about the spices and not so much about the pumpkin. I’m a pumpkin kind of gal. Besides, it’s a good way to get a bit of Vitamin A in.
It starts with a syrup
Making your own syrup for a PSL is not only easy, but (in my opinion) tastes better. For me, I find the commercially made ones are just far TOO sweet for my tastes, and we’re talking 1 pump of syrup for a Grande! I really don’t like sweet drinks.
The basis for the PSL is a simple syrup.
If you cook or make cocktails often, a simple syrup is old news to you. I make my syrup with a 2:1 ratio of water to syrup, so that breaks down to 2 cups water to 1 cup sugar, or 4 cups water to 2 cups sugar. Since you most likely don’t have sugar cane growing in your yard, start by finding the best sugar you can for this. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar is all dissolved. Store in the fridge for about 30 days.
I use a simple syrup to sweeten cold drinks as sugars/honey/agave nectar doesn’t dissolve well in cold liquids, but you can also use it to make an infusion (say blueberry syrup with real blueberries?) or to cure/candy citrus fruits (the sugar acts as a preservative) or you can brush a layer on your layer cakes to keep the cake from drying out!
Enough with that. Get with the PSL!
The syrup for the PSL is similar to an infusion, with you speeding up the process with heat. I actually add a bit of dark brown sugar for some depth of flavor and I increase the pumpkin because I heart pumpkin!
2 cups simple syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar*
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup canned organic pumpkin
1. Combine simple syrup and dark brown sugar in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, then reduce heat to low.
2. Add cinnamon sticks, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and pumpkin, and whisk vigorously to combine. Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let it come to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10-20 minutes on the stove.
3. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and store in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Yield: 2 cups (or 1 pint)
For a PSL, add 1 T of syrup to 3 oz strong coffee. Top with 5 oz warmed organic milk. Froth it if you are fancy like that.
*Just ’cause I have to say: depending on the brown sugar you use, this may not be 100% GMO free. Most sugar is made from GMO sugar beets, so if your sugar is made from Organic Sugar Cane, you are in business. The bigger question remains with the molasses which makes brown sugar brown and gives it it’s characteristic flavor. Is the molasses used was made from non-GMO sugar cane you’re cool. Chances are, if you are using Organic Brown Sugar, you should be OK.