Can we have an honest discussion about the dehumanizing and demoralizing nature of the pumpkin spice craze?
According to Fortune’s Beth Kowitt, corporate caffeine pimp Starbucks has sold more than 200 million PSLs (Pumpkin Spice Lattes) since the drink’s introduction. I’ve never had one, nor do I plan to. Ever. To worsen the matter, you can now find pumpkin spice in M&M’s, frozen pancakes and waffles, Pop Tarts, tea, coffee, beer, muffin mix, oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, body butter…hell, there’s even a Corsair-brand pumpkin spice moonshine, which is perhaps just strong enough to make you forget how much pumpkin spice has infiltrated your lives.
I say NO MORE! To adopt a popular Dune meme for the purposes of weaning you off all this played-out, store-bought garbage: “He who controls the pumpkin spice controls the universe.” Seems to be working incredibly well for the ‘Bucks. But it’s time to take the spice back, one DIY pumpkin dish at a time. Hack the PSL system. It’s easy, and it’s delicious!
Slow-Cooked Spiced Pumpkin Butter
(yields about 2 pints)
2 cups roasted-pumpkin purée
(see method below) or canned plain pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Jars or freezer containers for storing
For pumpkin purée:
Preheat oven to 375º F. Carefully cut two pie pumpkins (also called sugar pumpkins) into quarters. Scrape out seeds and stringy guts and reserve in a nonreactive bowl (glass or stainless steel) of warm saltwater for the green chile pumpkin seeds recipe. Place pumpkin pieces skin-side up in tall-sided cookie pans or casserole dishes. Add hot water halfway up the sides of the pans and cover tightly with foil. Roast squash on middle rack until the flesh is soft, about 45 minutes to an hour. Cool completely. Scrape cooked flesh out of pumpkins and pulse in a food processor on high until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and stir well. Cover and cook on low for four hours. Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom or scorching on the sides. Store in airtight containers, and refrigerate or freeze.
*IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, it is too dangerous to use traditional home-canning methods in the preservation of puréed squash, because it is too dense, lacks the acceptable levels of acid and contains lots of moisture (PDF: bit.ly/pumpkindanger). Store some in the fridge for up to eight weeks and freeze the rest for up to a year. But seriously, if you still have some left after a couple weeks, you’re either stingy, dead inside or both.
Chile-Dusted Pumpkin Seeds
(yields about three cups)
3 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
2-3 tablespoons red, green or chipotle
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/8 cup vegetable oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Soak the pumpkin seeds in a strong saltwater solution (a gallon of warm water with 2/3 cup salt dissolved in it) for three or four hours at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. The solution not only helps season the seeds, it also helps break down the stringy fibers that cling to the seeds after removing them from the pumpkin. Preheat oven to 300º F. Remove seeds from saltwater, pat excess moisture off them with a towel or paper towels, and spread them on a large cookie sheet with sides. Stir the oil into the seeds and sprinkle the chile powder, garlic powder and a little salt all over them. Roast on middle rack, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden and hardened, about 40 minutes to an hour. Depending on the size of the seeds, you may need to adjust the time. Drain cooked seeds on paper towels to remove excess oil and adjust seasoning. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Step away from the latte! Here’s a few more ways of getting your pumpkin spice fix.
Buttery Pumpkin Biscuits
(yields about 24 three-inch biscuits)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ to 1 tablespoon chipotle powder (optional)
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
1 ½ cup pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon honey
½ cup milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400º F. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Cut butter into the dry mixture with a pastry cutter or butter knife until it resembles extra-coarse cornmeal. Stir in the honey, milk and pumpkin purée just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours. Gently knead cold dough for about 30 seconds on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out to ¾-inch thick. Cut out biscuits using a three-inch-diameter biscuit cutter or glass. Place rounds of dough one inch apart on slightly buttered baking sheets. Bake on center rack, turning once during cooking, for about 25 minutes. Cool on wire racks or serve immediately with pumpkin butter.