Homemade pumpkin spice syrup a la Starbucks

Normally, I HATE sweet coffee.  I refuse to put sugar in, and frequently don’t add milk.  There are some exceptions, and they’re all lattes: Rao‘s skinny vanilla latte is #1, and in second place (mostly because it is often screwed up) is a pumpkin spice latte, which I have only ever gotten at Starbucks.  How does one mess up a latte?  The answer is easy: too much syrup.  It’s supposed to be milky, with a prominent coffee flavor and a light sweetness.  Too often, excessive syrup makes it not only not the best, but nearly undrinkable.  Yuck.

This morning, after my early bedtime, I slept in until 8:20 – not sure how I managed to do that, must really be sick (as always, in denial about that) – and decided as I drifted in and out of sleep that I wanted to make my own pumpkin spice syrup.

Louie patiently waiting for me to be awake
(this does not always happen)

A dietetic intern’s budget is even tighter than a regular student’s, since we don’t have the time for a part time job.  Every unplanned coffee, every pint, every snack you’re forced to pick up because you forgot to throw an apple in your bag hurts.  It’s pretty rough.  Luckily, I’m a certified group fitness instructor which tends to be a super-flexible job and I can make a couple extra dollars here and there to partially cover gas expenditures.  Also, I’ve lived the life of a money hoarder for the past 21 years so I’m used to the whole “spend money only if you are about to die” thing.  My clothes are either from high school or my mom bought them for me.  Or they’re workout clothes.  Sometimes I can’t help myself.  Moving on.

To accomplish this task of re-creating the pumpkin spice latte, I spent a little time on google sorting out different people’s versions.  I wasn’t about to make something that required heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk – I really just wanted that delicious fall flavor captured in a syrup.  I ended up using the recipe at Confections of a Foodie Bride, but changing a few key things to suit my tastes and my spice cabinet.  Instead of using white sugar, I used brown for that molasses-y fall time flavor; and I spiced it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice because I don’t have any ground ginger or cloves.  Left those back home and will be using them excessively when I’m there for Christmas.

Here’s how I did it:


– 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar

– 1 1/4 cup water

– 3T pumpkin

– 1 T cinnamon

– 1/2 t allspice

– 1/2 t nutmeg

1. Combine sugar and water over medium heat and cook until dissolved.

2. Whisk in pumpkin and spices, cook for 5 minutes without boiling

At this point, your syrup is ready for use however you want!  I poured mine into jars, and instead of cleaning out the pan I added about 1/4 cup of skim milk and heated it, stirring to mix in all the left over syrup (which was just a coating).  Once hot, I poured it into my cup of coffee – PERFECTION!

So hipster with our Ball jars, Mississippi apples, and red wine collection sneaking in the picture

Please note that this syrup can be used for ANYTHING: sweetening up your oatmeal, yogurt, cooking with apples, adding to vinaigrettes…

This syrup will probably keep for a looong time in your refrigerator.  It has no preservatives, but it has a high amount of sugar.  Think back to science class: remember osmosis?  With so many sugar particles in the solution, the water inside a microorganism that happens to find itself inside your syrup will diffuse into the surrounding liquid by osmosis to try to even out the concentrations and it will shrivel up and die.  Or at least it should, but I didn’t cook my syrup to a super thick consistency.  When there is less sugar in the solution (which might be the case since it’s not super concentrated), bacteria can grow.  This is why your jar of low sugar preserves needs to be replaced about five times in the time that you can keep your regular preserves, jellies and jams.  Just check the syrup before you use it, but it should be fine for several months.  Science rules!

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