KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Pumpkin spice gets more than it’s fair share of hate, but some simple tweaks of ingredients can change it to something worth raving about.
Every year, pumpkin spice latte lovers flock to coffee shops signaling the beginning of fall, and those who just do not get the hype share their discontent. For those searching Google, one of the top suggestions when writing out “when will pumpkin spice…” is asking when it will end. While pumpkin spice can be divisive, some simple spice swaps could make it more palatable for some.
Pumpkin spice has many good factors. Aside from bringing in the warm and cozy fall season, it may also offer health benefits. Cedars Sinai, a medical center in California, reports back that the spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, each have health benefits.
“Cinnamon and nutmeg have the highest concentration of salicylic acid, which is an important compound for anti-inflammation.” said Emily Hu, a dietetic intern in the Cedars-Sinai Department of Food and Nutritional Services, in 2020
The recipe for most pumpkin spice is simple. Most DIY recipes call for
- roughly one part ground allspice and ground cloves,
- just 1 1/2 parts nutmeg and ground ginger,
- and two parts cinnamon.
Any part of this spice blend can turn off anyone, which is why simply tweaking the recipe can help.
What may turn off some is the use of star anise, which is commonly in spice mixtures that mimic allspice. Food Network relates the flavor of star anise to licorice. For those who cannot fathom licorice tasting good, removing allspice may improve the taste of pumpkin spice. Simply adding a relatively small amount of fennel and black pepper may make up for the deficit that removing allspice may leave.
Dialing back on the cloves may also be an option to improve pumpkin spice. Cloves can easily over power other spices when used too much, and leave the spice blend with a bitter taste, according to spiceography.com. This bitter taste, added to the bitterness of coffee could very well turn people away from the beloved pumpkin spice latte. While the smell of cloves brings memories of winter holidays, reducing or eliminating the spice may be necessary for those who just do not like it.
Other spices may also pair well with the blend, including cumin, chili, and cardamom. McCormick explains cumin as having a rich, earthy and warm taste with an edge of citrus, while MasterClass says cardamom is a bit more complex depending on the type used. Green cardamom has an herbal warmth and can be recognized as a cross between eucalyptus, mint and pepper, while being more citrusy than fennel and sweeter than cumin MasterClass says. Black cardamom is less pungent than the green cardamom, and while it has a dialed down profile of the green cardamom, it also has an added hint of bark and smoke.
If possible, one additional step may also help is toasting the spices. Spices are best served toasted, and this especially makes a difference with spice blends, such as Chai. Finecooking.com explains that the heat of toasting opens up the complex flavors of the spices, making them full and smooth instead of harsh and raw. Toasting can be done by simply adding the spices to a dry, medium-low heat skillet or pan and stirring them frequently until they become fragrant and darken slightly according to Fine Cooking. For those making pumpkin spice syrup, once toasting can be done, the spices removed from the pan with the regular recipe being followed after.