Pumpkin Spice Latte

Let me start by saying the pictures don't do this drink justice. If I could, I would have captured this drink on a long walk beneath red, yellow, and purple trees. I would have photographed it between two warm mittens, as conversation among friends flowed between sips. I would have found it resting on a kitchen counter, enjoyed during an early fall sunset after a long day at work.

These are the places this Pumpkin Spice Latte would find itself at home.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is most well known as a seasonal treat you can find at your neighborhood coffee chain. Though available only a few months out of the year, its popularity keeps people coming back. At least, this is what I have been told. After being urged to give it a shot, I bought my first real Pumpkin Spice Latte a couple weeks ago. Dropping $5 on a drink wasn't easy (lordy, that's so much cash) and I am sad to say I was not impressed.

Truth be told, it was lacking flavor. I tasted the pumpkin but couldn't seem to find the spice.

Still, this drink buzzed around my thoughts during the last week. I knew it had the potential to be so much better, to have real flavor (with none of this fake pumpkin sugar syrup nonsense coffee houses love so much). And so, after a week's worth of thoughts and daydreaming, I finally blocked out some time to make itβ€”to perfect it.

And I think that's just what I did.

This Pumpkin Spice Latte is warm and inviting. The pumpkin flavor is prominent, with tones of cinnamon and nutmeg, a trace of heat from ground ginger, and a hint of warm vanilla to round it out. To begin, pumpkin spice infused milk is heated on the stove until steaming (your home will smell fantastic). Next, and perhaps a bit unusual, the milk is blended in a blender until light and frothy. Though coffee shops have the advantage of using a steamer to froth the milk, the blender works as a worthy substitute. Hot coffee is mixed in and whipped cream is spread on top, with a sprinkling of cinnamon to finish it off.

I love this recipe because it is completely adaptable to your tastes. If you want more coffee and less milk, you can do it with ease. If you want more cinnamon (or less spice), the choice is yours. While I have given you the recipe for my perfect Pumpkin Spice Latte, you can freely play around a bit until you find yours. And did I mention it's much, much cheaper?

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Pumpkin Spice Latte

Adapted from The Kitchn

Yields 2 16-ounce servings

2 cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups strongly brewed coffee, hot
Whipped cream, optional

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pumpkin, and brown sugar until steaming (do not boil!). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour milk mixture into a large blender and blend milk until frothy. Note: Be very careful when blending hot liquids as they expand and blend much more quickly than their cold counterparts.

Pour milk mixture evenly between 2 large mugs. Pour 1 cup hot coffee in each mug and top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Serve hot, with a cinnamon stick to stir.