Upon the first cool wisps of fall air floats a familiar scent, one that you may have known for a long time. It is the aroma of mostly cinnamon, sometimes nutmeg, cloves, ginger, occasionally allspice and always warmth; it is the fragrance off the top of a pumpkin pie, from a recipe handed down through generations, or one you bought at a supermarket. As of 2003, however, the fragrance that lifts you up on your tiptoes like an old-fashioned cartoon character became so firmly attached to a seasonal Starbucks beverage that these first gasps of relief from summer heat might forever be attached to the myth, the name, the flavor: pumpkin spice.
Be you a lover of the classic, holiday-scented mix of spices, or an ardent hater of the stuff, pumpkin spice season is here and with it, twists and turns on that combination, once solely for pie, now for everything from the trademarked Pumpkin Spice Latte to the rather horrifying Pumpkin Spice SPAM.
Luckily many (though not all) pumpkin spice items are still edible, and we have some of the tastiest ones in our archives. Read on, autumn aficionados, for the nicest pumpkin-spice recipes we have on deck.
Pumpkin Muffins, above. What a bright little treat for a chilly morning: a warm muffin, either freshly baked or given a quick zap, with a crunchy walnut top. With just a hint of pumpkin spice, these deep gourd-gold muffins fit so well with a hot coffee.
Pumpkin Spice Cake. The original version of this recipe, published in 1936, may have been the first to join “pumpkin” and “spice” to eventually become the dual-word adjective it is today. With some modern tweaks, it is now a light and less aggressively nutmeg-spiced loaf with little pieces of crystallized ginger for punch.
Pumpkin-Caramel Tart With Toasted Hazelnut Crust. Not quite a pie, but perhaps something that will charm you so much more. The filling might appear to be much like a pumpkin pie’s, but the addition of homemade caramel will add a more complex sweetness atop a crust with nutty nuance.
Pumpkin Cranberry Waffles. Yes, another pumpkin spice breakfast, please! This one ingeniously includes tart buttermilk and cranberries alongside whole wheat flour to shoo away any notions of pumpkin spice eats being cloyingly sweet.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie With Coconut Cream. Not even the plant-based among us can escape the pumpkin spice fever — nor would they want to with this version of a pumpkin pie. Molasses adds depth to an often one-note filling, while coconut cream whip gives this pie a little tropical twist.
Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast. One more pumpkin spice breakfast please! Cut your challah slices extra thick, so you can stuff them with a pielike filling.
Maple and Pumpkin Custard. If you simply cannot be bothered to fuss with a pie crust, just make the filling! This custard then gets a crumble topping, a pie inverted.
Fluffy Buttermilk Pumpkin Pie. And for those of you who do want all the pleasures of a pie, this very light rendition of a pumpkin pie uses whipped egg whites for plenty of air. Choose a milder cinnamon so as not to overpower the gingersnap crust.
Pumpkin Crème Brulees. As pumpkin spice fever grows stronger and stranger with each coming year, you can take it in the other direction. For those of you feeling the need to elevate a pumpkin spice dessert, serve up a very creamy, gently spiced iteration beneath shining sugar tops. This recipe employs a pressure cooker to cook the custard, though you can do these simply in a water bath in the 325-degree oven.
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