Make us your home page

Four ways to satisfy a pumpkin spice craving if you don't like pumpkin

Homemade pumpkin pie spice in a glass jar.


Homemade pumpkin pie spice in a glass jar.

Every year, it creeps up ominously, a cozy essence that infiltrates everything. Long ago, it used to be contained to a cup of coffee. Maybe a Yankee candle. Now, it's in almost every major food group: bagels, yogurt, soup, candy.

It is pumpkin spice, a flavor with a confusing name probably meant to mimic pumpkin pie spice — cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves.

It's definitely not meant to resemble actual pumpkin. No. Pumpkin is an orange squash that's hard on the outside and mealy on the inside. Pumpkin has stringy innards and hardly any flavor. Pumpkin puree, the kind that comes in a can, easily becomes a component in delicious muffins. Real pumpkin is kind of a pain.

Pumpkin does not make you remember home as it wafts into your nostrils on a crisp fall day. Pumpkin spice does that. That's what most people really want.

Others want the season-long trend to go away completely. In Ask Me Anything on the website Reddit last week, chef Anthony Bourdain, never one to mince words, revealed his feelings on the ubiquitous flavor: "I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly," he wrote.

Last year, Starbucks announced it was adding actual pumpkin to its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in the form of a "Pumpkin Spice Flavored Sauce" that contains sugar, condensed skim milk and pumpkin puree.

They missed the point.

We don't actually want to taste pumpkin in our ice cream, or Pop-Tarts, or M&Ms. We want spicy cinnamon, distinct nutmeg, warm cloves. Here is a list of ways to live that pumpkin spice life without having to come in contact with any pesky pumpkin.

Dip fruit in a Pumpkin Spice Yogurt Dip: Start with 1 cup plain yogurt. Stir in 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. (If you don't have any, mix together 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves.) Serve with apple slices and graham crackers.

Share Chewy Spice Cookies with your friends: Start by heating an oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl, beat ¾ cup vegetable shortening and ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar until fluffy. Add 1 large egg, ½ cup molasses and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and beat at a low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, mix and place balls of dough onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Drink your own Pumpkin Spice Latte: Brew some plain coffee of your choice. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon water and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice to a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until sugar melts, and stir to combine well into a syrup. Add ½ cup milk and, stirring constantly, cook until milk is warm. Pour about ½ cup coffee into a mug, then add as much milk mixture as you'd like.

Make Pumpkin Popcorn for your next movie night: Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice together in a bowl. Place 3 tablespoons unpopped popcorn kernels in a large pot with 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Heat popcorn until it pops. Remove from heat and immediately add spice mix. Shake to coat.

Contact Michelle Stark at or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

Four ways to satisfy a pumpkin spice craving if you don't like pumpkin 09/26/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 26, 2016 12:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 27


    Clearwater Threshers: Kids 5 and older get their choice of red or blue fidget spinner. 7 p.m., Spectrum Field (formerly Bright House Field), 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. $6-$10. (727) 467-4457;

    A boy plays with a fidget spinner. (Associated Press)
  2. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 22: A rejuvenating visit to The House of the Gods (a.k.a. Pilgrim Paradise)


    Day 22: Hospital de Orbigo to Murias de Rechivaldo: 22.3 km, 6 hours. Total for Days 1-22 = 520 km (323 miles)

  3. Art Planner: Fashion superstars are on display at Tampa Museum of Art, and Fourth Friday offers up a ton of culture

    Visual Arts

    Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter at the TMA

    NYC’s “Queen of the Night,” Susanne Bartsch,
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay this week: Margarita Wars, Tampa Bay Comic Con


    GEEK OUT: Tampa Bay Comic Con

    Now in its seventh year, Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Kate Beckinsale, left, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Seth Alderman, left, and Kieron Phoenix both dressed as the Spiderman at the 2016 Tampa Bay Comic Con.
  5. What new movies are out this week: 'Atomic Blonde,' 'The Emoji Movie'




    The world's baddest Academy Award winner Charlize Theron kicks Cold War butt in Atomic Blonde (R), in a role more furious (and Furiosa) than ever. It won't win Theron another Oscar but maybe an MMA title shot.

    Charlize Theron in “Atomic Blonde.”