I have a problem with things in my coffee, which means I really dislike all those fancy caramel/mocha/pumpkin type drinks! Every time pumpkin lattes come into a conversation, I keep quiet and try not to say anything. Whenever I’m put on the spot and people find out I don’t like flavored coffee drinks, the reaction is always the same – ‘what is wrong with you’!!! But you see… I was predisposed to be a ‘coffee snob’, with a great local coffee roastery where I learned to enjoy coffee just as it is. I really don’t mean to be a ‘snob’ or anything which is why I usually try to stay quiet on the subject, I just know exactly how I like my coffee and it’s definitely not with pumpkin in it!
Anyways, this year as the pumpkin latte craze whipped into full force again, I thought why not make it a pumpkin chai latte? I thought chai spices and pumpkin would be meant for each other, and it turns out they are! My first rendition of this recipe happened over a month ago as a way to use up the extra pumpkin from my Double Pumpkin Granola, but my first version didn’t have the pizazz I hoped for. Next thing you know I got sidetracked, (by Peanut Butter Granola Bars) until last week when I decided to give it another go, only this time with some salted caramel thrown in for good measure!
The final product is seriously delicious – addicting really, and ultimately comforting with a warm spice infused pumpkin base topped off with whipped cream and salted caramel! And… it’s a fancy drink I actually like – I’m still not budging on pumpkin in my coffee though! I’m really at a loss for why I hate, (and I do mean hate) flavors in my coffee – but for some reason it’s completely fine when you combine it with tea?!? People are right – what’s wrong with me anyways, or maybe I’m not the only one?
A number of years ago a friend and I were visiting San Francisco, and of course we spent every day sampling as much food as possible! Our first morning there we stopped in a great looking coffee shop for espresso and pastries. I asked for a croissant and a macchiato, (equal parts espresso and steamed milk) – the man behind the counter asked me if I wanted that ‘Starbucks style” – I stared at him blankly and asked him to repeat the question. He gave me a funny look but repeated the question – I was still at a loss for an answer and finally had to admit that I didn’t know what that meant! This apparently was bizarre and he asked me ‘where are you from’ – to which I replied, ‘Montana, we don’t have a Starbucks in my town, I’ve never even been in one’! My answer of course was ‘shocking’ because everyone’s been to Starbucks right? (For the record we’ve had a local Starbucks now for a few years.)
The long and short of it is – ‘Starbuck’s style’ means their caramel macchiato which I find unbearably sweet and lacking in true coffee flavor (see there’s that opinionated side coming out again – someone please stop me)! But, I really think it’s because I first loved my coffee black – no cream, sugar, or flavorings. Tea on the other hand has never been my thing, with chai tea sneaking in only when I’ve reached my coffee limit! Over the last while I’ve been branching out of the coffee world a bit, and I’ve found chai tea to be infinitely compatible with all sort of sweets. It’s flavors are so perfect for all kinds of fruits and flavors!
So all coffee partiality aside, I hope you enjoy this latte – I can’t think of a better way to cozy up on a chilly fall day!
P.S. Do you like flavors in your coffee, and what’s your favorite drink?
- 2 Teaspoons ground Indian Chai tea mix*
- 2 cups almond milk
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 6 Tablespoons of maple syrup
- a pinch of sea salt - less than ⅛ Teaspoon
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the pumpkin latte base in a medium sized pan.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat for 6-10 minutes or until the mixture is hot but not boiling.
- To make the latte frothy, you can whisk it vigorously while it's heating up and there will be a layer of foam on top, or you can place it in a blender to add more foam. If you have an espresso machine or a milk frother that's the best option for good thick foam.
- After frothing, pour the finished latte mixture into 4 glasses, top with whipped cream and drizzle with caramel sauce.
- For added presentation, you can 'paint' lines of caramel sauce up the sides of each glass for a striped look.
- I make the soft version of my coconut whipped cream for drinks because the firmer version tends to sink right into your drink!
You will have leftovers of both the whipped cream and the caramel sauce, but it's no problem finding a use for them! The caramel sauce makes a good sweetener for an apple crisp, and you can use the whipped cream for topping it.
I've made this latte several times without the toppings, and it's good that way as well if you're not in the mood to make the toppings!
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