Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Living in Los Angeles, few things truly invoke the feeling of Autumn.  The palms trees that frame the avenues, swaying ever so violently in the Santa Ana winds, do not burn with orange and gold leaves.  Even at night, temperatures rarely dip below sixty degrees.  So, in addition to strident insistence on wearing sweaters because it is October, guys, the thing that signals the beginning of Fall in the modern era is … the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

When I managed a restaurant at the base of an office building in downtown LA, we would get requests frequently for our version of the beverage, and so I (a former Starbucks barista myself) developed a Pumpkin spice syrup for our bar, that I will happily share with you now, in consideration of the current Pumpkin Spice syrup shortage of 2012

I do something a little differently with my syrup, cutting the amount of sugar in the base mix and adding sweetened condensed milk, but I like the body that the sweetened condensed milk gives to the final product.  The cinnamon/pumpkin/condensed milk combo adds creamy richness and warmth to whatever you add this syrup to– coffee, latte, hot chocolate, a little brandy and creme de cocao shaken over ice…

If you don’t want to use the sweetened condensed milk, then just increase the brown sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe after the jump

Sidework Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon, high-quality)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup sweetened condensed milk


Note: Use the best, freshest cinnamon you can get.  It makes a huge difference.  When you smell the cinnamon in the jar, it should really give you the impression of those red-hot candies you ate as a kid.  If it smells vaguely like cardboard, your syrup is going to taste, well, vaguely like cardboard…. the cinnamon does the heavy lifting here. So don’t wuss out and use the cheap stuff.

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the spices and the pumpkin and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture becomes syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. (about 8-10 minutes)
  4. Remove from heat and strain the syrup through cheesecloth, tea towel, or strainer. Depending on the type of strainer you use, you may need to strain the syrup twice.
  5. Allow the syrup to cool,  then add sweetened condensed milk.
  6. Refrigerate the syrup in a tightly closed jar for up to a month.

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