We’re still a few days out from fall, but late summer brings with it the promise of the coming harvest season. The days ever so slightly cooler, the nights come ever so slightly earlier, and we see a smorgasbord of pumpkin-flavored treats. The flagship of this fall flavor fleet is the pumpkin spice latte, that most perfect blend of espresso, steamed milk, and pumpkin pie spices that brings in the season with much pomp and circumstance.
Starbucks continues to have the best PSL (the full name is a lot to keep typing out) on the market. Maybe I’m just biased because the barista working at the Starbucks I went to this evening was on top of their game and made what may be the best PSL I’ve ever had, but I find Starbucks’s concoction to be the most balanced between the sweet snap of the espresso, the creaminess of the milk, and the bouquet of warming spices that is the pumpkin magic. Sheetz has a decent PSL even if they opt to call their drink a pumpkin pie latte. I find it a bit too heavy on the coffee, which results in the spices being rolled right over; yes, I know it’s a flavored syrup and not the actual spices, but this actually pronounces the overpowering burn of the coffee in that a syrup should blend more efficiently. McDonald’s is good if you demand creamy goodness, as they use the sweetest syrup and go real heavy on the milk, but I still prefer the perfect balance of Starbucks.
Of course, both Dunkin’ and Panera Bread have their own entries in the PSL game. I haven’t tried those, as they did not come to my location last year and I haven’t checked those businesses this year. But my favorite fall treat is not actually the PSL. And it’s not pumpkin ales, though I love those as well, with New Belgium Pumpkick being my favorite. No, my favorite pumpkin munchy has got to be Krispy Kreme’s Pumpkin Spice cake donut. It’s near-perfect in that it balances spicy and sweet on a knife’s edge, and goes beautifully with a cup of coffee. The first time I dunk a day-old pumpkin spice donut into a fresh cup of black coffee is probably the moment that fall starts for me every year.
My wife also makes a fine pumpkin soup, which I usually have for lunch more than once as she cooks a hearty batch. And I’ve been tossing around an idea for a pumpkin spice pizza for a few years; I’m thinking a pumpkin-spiced dough topped with a seasoned pumpkin puree with cheddar cheese and crumbled country sausage. If only somebody with more pizza-making skill than I could take on this project, I’d happily test it out.
What’s your favorite pumpkin treat? If you don’t like pumpkin–then what’s wrong with you?