Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice: How to make, use pumpkin syrup three ways

Nights in San Diego are growing chillier, and it won't be too long before the days follow suit as we inch our way into October next week. 

It might be a millennial stereotype, or seem like a tacky obsession, but pumpkin spice is one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures in life. To me, it is the ultimate flavor and scent of comfort. 

I'm one of those silly people lining up at the coffee shop at the end of August, impatiently waiting for my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. 

Over the years, I've probably purchased pumpkin spice in almost any product configuration you can think of: chapstick, pastry tarts, cookies, Hershey's Kisses, coffee creamers, cakes, baking chips, pasta noodles, Oreos, pasta sauce, soaps, bubblegum, lotion, candies, and oh so many bottles and types of pumpkin beers. If you can name it, I've probably bought it.

I even mass purchase a collection of pumpkin-scented candles every fall in hopes that they'll last me through most of the year until they're available for purchase again.

(The only exception to my general "I'll try every pumpkin spiced item once" rule would be pumpkin spice-flavored Spam, since I was completely and totally traumatized by canned meat products as a kid.)

In a recent fit of late night, Amazon stress shopping, I stocked up on canned pumpkin so I could start creating some new fall recipes. So after some therapeutic stress writing about missing out on apple picking this season because of the pandemic last Friday night, I woke up Saturday morning, cleaned up the kitchen and proceeded to make what is possibly the best batch of pumpkin syrup I've ever created. 

I've made many pumpkin coffee creamer and syrup recipes in the past, but the creamy ones often spoil too quickly, and sometimes there's too much or not enough spice added to balance out the flavor of the pumpkin.

Goldie Locks would quite enjoy the recipe I concocted last weekend, which in my opinion is the perfect balance of sweet, spice and pumpkin goodness. 

My secret ingredient (well, it's not really a secret since I'm publishing the recipe in this blog piece) is skipping the pre-mixed pumpkin spice mix and incorporating some ground cardamom in with the normal cinnamon and nutmeg flavors. The result is the perfect coffee companion, pumpkin waffle topping and craft cocktail substitute to stir a mean, autumnal old fashioned.

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Syrup Makes about 8 servings
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin Purée
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ginger, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
  • 2 Cloves, whole
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Add all ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir until combined. Over low heat, bring the mixture up to a simmer then cook while continuously stirring for four minutes. 

Turn off the burner, then pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Discard the pulp and let the remaining syrup cool on the counter before transferring into a bottle and storing in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Pumpkin Spice Waffles — Makes 10, 4-inch waffles
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger, ground
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/8 cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Purée
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup Half and Half
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 Vanilla bean, seeds only
  • 2 tablespoons Powdered Sugar, sifted*

Turn on waffle iron to heat. 

Over a low burner, heat the butter in a small saucepan until melted but not browned. Turn off burner and set aside to cool. Next, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a bowl, then set aside. 

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the egg, brown sugar and pumpkin purée, and use the paddle attachment to mix until combined. Slowly mix in the half and half until combined with the pumpkin mixture, then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. 

Pour mixture into an angled measuring cup, then pour 1/3 cup of batter into the iron for each waffle, closing the lid. Cook each waffle for about four to five minutes, or until the iron stops steaming, the remove from the iron. I like to add butter to each waffle as I remove and stack them so it melts from he residual heat of being cooked. 

While cooking the waffles, scrape the seeds out of 1/4 of a vanilla bean (you can save the discarded beans to make homemade vanilla extract or vanilla sugar). Add the cold heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds into a clean mixing bowl, then use the whip attachment to aerate until medium peaks form. Store in the fridge until ready to eat.

To plate, stack three to four waffles per dish, layered with butter, and drizzle with pumpkin syrup. Top with whipped cream for a decadent Sunday brunch.

Note: I prefer my whipped cream on the lighter side of the sweetness spectrum, especially for breakfast, but if your prefer yours a little sweeter, you can add more to taste.

Pumpkin Spice Dalgona Coffee — Makes 4 cups of coffee
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Instant Coffee — I prefer Cafe Altura freeze dried instant organic coffee
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Cane Sugar
  • 2 cups Milk of choice, divided
  • 6 ounces of Pumpkin Syrup, divided
  • Ice
  • Garnish: Cinnamon
Bring water to a boil. Add water, instant coffee and cane sugar to a mixing bowl and aerate using the whip attachment until medium peaks form. 

In four separate mugs, mix 1/2 a cup of milk and 1 1/2 ounces of pumpkin syrup. Top milk mixture with ice, then divide coffee mixture between the four mugs. Lightly dust with cinnamon, then serve.

Pumpkin Spice Up Your Life Old Fashioned Makes 1 cocktail
  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce Pumpkin Spice Syrup
  • 2 dashes Cardamom Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
Pour bourbon, syrup and bitters into a mixing glass, then add a scoop of ice. Use a cocktail spoon to stir the mixer 15 times, or until the liquid is chilled. Double strain through a Hawthorne strainer and a fine mesh strainer into a cocktail glass over fresh ice, then garnish with the cinnamon stick to serve.

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