I love when Mr. Pedantic suggests that we pull through that magical drive-thru to pay an obscene amount of money for a white and green cup with a scribbled interpretation of my name that only holds what I actually ordered a solid fifty percent of the time.
We complain to each other about the atrocious service and celebrate when the drink actually tastes as it should - a thing which some misinformed members of society might believe to be compulsory - but time and time again I long for that truly American experience. I have no doubt that $4.75 of my $5.00 goes to pay for just that, the experience, and gosh I do love it.
However, there are times when the charm wears thin. Where I am tired of requesting extra pumps or being denied decaf, but my desire for the comfort of a warm cup in hand and the scent of fall mingled with my morning brew demands satisfaction.
Several weeks ago my sister whipped up a pumpkin spice caramel and sent a jar home with me. It did not take much imagination for that thick, topaz elixer to make its way into my morning coffee.
Any idea conceived before 7am is a masterpiece by definition, but this was a particularly spectacular one.
In far too short a time, however, the jar was emptied and I was left to my own cravings and devices.
This spicy, pumpkin caramel could find adoration wherever it wandered. Ice cream, cake, maybe even pork chops (I'm considering it) - it just makes everything taste like fall and I love it.
My favorite application though, has to be this latte. The combination of pumpkin, spices, and sweet, burnt sugar is everything!
I decided to add a bit of nuttiness to my morning latte by using almond milk, but you could definitely go with half and half or cream.
On the other hand, you could make the latte and the caramel with almond milk and coconut butter and this could be a pretty delicious vegan situation. Full disclosure, I have not tried that combination, so if it's less than incredible, well...that's probably because it's vegan.
Strong coffee, rich caramel, and frothy almond milk - it's the most wonderful way to begin the day.
Good morning, beautiful.
Nutty Pumpkin Caramel Latte
for the pumpkin spice caramel
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cook's Note: This recipe makes more caramel than you will need for two lattes, however, it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week so you can enjoy it all week long. Just bring it to room temperature or heat it in the microwave for about thirty seconds, before adding it to the coffee. This will result in a much smoother cup.
Combine sugar, butter, and water in a high-sided 10-inch sauté pan and place over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, then stop all stirring. Cook the syrup until it becomes medium amber in color, swirling the pan gently now and then for even caramelization. This should take about five minutes.
Once the syrup is medium amber in color, remove the pan from the heat and gently whisk in pumpkin puree, whipping cream, spices, and vanilla. The mixture will seize up and bubble furiously, but this is okay.
Return the pan to the heat and continue to whisk gently until the caramel is smooth and thick; 2-3 minutes.
Pour the caramel into a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
for the latte
- 5 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
- 2 cups boiling water
- pinch of kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups almond milk
- 4 tablespoons prepared pumpkin spice caramel
- freshly grated nutmeg, optional
Cook's Note: Before the baristas come knocking down my door, I know, this is not a true latte. I am still saving up for my espresso machine. But this is my favorite way to make a faux-latte at home and I think it is pretty darn good.
Add the coffee grounds and kosher salt to the bottom of your french press and cover with boiling water. Allow the coffee to steep for 5 minutes before slowly pressing.
While the coffee is brewing, heat the almond milk in a small saucepan or microwave, until steaming. Froth with an electric frother.
Add 2 tablespoons of the prepared caramel to the bottom of two mugs and cover with about 3/4 cup of hot coffee. Stir to combine.
Cook's Note: The amount of caramel is entirely up to personal tastes. I like my coffee pretty sweet so you may wish to begin with one tablespoon and go from there.
Top with frothed almond milk and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg. Serve immediately and enjoy!