Fall spice: the epitome of middle-class America. But also super delicious.
Look, I love me a pumpkin spice latte (although I get mine with only 2 pumps because it’s so. much. sugar). But I also wanted a way to make something that didn’t have to be pumpkin, because I think we can all agree that this all-pumpkin-all-the-time thing is a little crazy. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios? Stop the madness.
(…Having said that, I also included a way to turn this fall spice all the way into pumpkin spice syrup. Don’t hate me.)
This is a lovely simple recipe. Where possible, I used whole spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon, and toasted them to release extra flavor. Where not possible–for instance, I couldn’t find allspice berries–I used ground. I’ve included amounts for both, so you can make this regardless of what you can find on the grocery shelves.
After the spices are toasted, we turn it into a simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water. I’ve used some brown sugar for extra caramely flavor. After it simmers, it steeps. This is where you can add extra fun stuff, like real vanilla aaand pumpkin puree.
This makes about 2 1/2 cups of syrup. It’s enough for many cups of coffee, or a whole party of cocktails (I’m thinking bourbon, Irish coffee, mulled wine…). It also makes your house smell exactly like autumn should always smell. What are you waiting for?
Recipe slightly adapted from Fox and Briar.
5 whole cardamom pods = 1/4 teaspoon ground
1 whole nutmeg = 2 teaspoons ground
3 whole cinnamon sticks = 1 1/2 teaspoons ground
2 tablespoons crystallized or fresh ginger = 1/2 teaspoon ground
2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole allspice berries = 1 teaspoon ground
1 whole star anise
1 packed cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 vanilla bean, scraped = 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
Optional: 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
Place the cardamom pods in a plastic bag and lightly crush them with a rolling pin to expose the seeds. Place the nutmeg in the bag and hit it lightly until it cracks open.
Place a pot on medium heat. When it's warm, add all of the whole spices spices, cardamom through star anise. Toast, stirring, for about a minute. (If using ground spices, add in the next step.)
Add water, both sugars, and any ground spices. Heat to boiling, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn off heat and add vanilla scrapings and bean (or paste or extract) and optional pumpkin. Whisk until the pumpkin is completely blended. Allow to steep for another 20-30 minutes (longer steeping will create a stronger flavor).
Pour through a mesh strainer into a jar or other storage container. Return the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks to the jar for a little extra flavor and color.
Store in the fridge. Use the fall spice syrup to flavor your coffee and cocktails all autumn long.