Pumpkin Spice was always my least favorite Spice Girl, coming in even after Sugaran’ Spice.
There is something about that pumpkin-spice combination of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg that offends my delicate sensibilities, and it is not the flavors themselves. The actual taste is wonderful.
The problem is its ubiquity. First there was pie, which is how Nature intended pumpkin spice to be used. But then came pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice Greek yogurt, pumpkin spice cereal, pumpkin spice (and sage) ravioli and even pumpkin spice dental floss.
My cousin, who lives near Washington, D.C., swears she saw a sign there for pumpkin spice pizza.
Clearly, pumpkin spice is not going to go away on its own. And so, like other things that will not go away on their own — appendicitis, leprosy, the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962 — it has to be dealt with.
So I dealt with it by making a handful of dishes that are actually good uses of pumpkin spice. I also made my own pumpkin spice mix to use in most of these recipes, because it was ridiculously easy to do.
Pumpkin blondie bars
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1½ cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 15-ounce can unsweetened pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch pan and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang.
Microwave the cream cheese in a medium, microwave-safe bowl in 15-second bursts, stirring after each one until smooth but not hot. Whisk in the sour cream, 2 tablespoons of the flour, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and ½ teaspoon of the salt until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 ½ cups flour, pumpkin spice and the remaining teaspoon of the salt until well combined.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until smooth, then whisk in egg and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then whisk in pumpkin puree and scrape down sides again. Whisk in the flour mixture until no streaks remain.
Reserving about ½ cup of the blondie batter, spread batter evenly in the prepared pan. Spread the cream cheese topping on top, leaving a ½-inch border. Scatter dollops of the reserved blondie batter on top of the cream cheese topping; then use a chopstick, butter knife or toothpick to swirl the blondie batter and cream cheese layers together. Be careful not to overmix — the idea is to get pretty swirls of the two without combining them too much.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan, then cut into bars and serve.
Makes 16 servings. Nutrition per serving: 321 calories; 19 grams fat; 11 gram saturated fat; 61 milligrams cholesterol; 5 grams protein; 34 grams carbohydrate; 16 grams sugar; 1 gram fiber; 136 milligrams sodium; 59 milligrams calcium
Recipe by Delish.com
Homemade pumpkin pie spice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
Makes 2½ tablespoons
Recipe by Tasteofhome.com
PSL Jell-O Shots
1 cup coffee
1 packet gelatin
⅔ cup Kahlua
⅓ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice, plus more for garnish
Whipped cream, for garnish
In a small saucepan, bring coffee to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin. Add Kahlúa, heavy cream and pumpkin spice, and whisk to combine.
Divide mixture evenly among 10 plastic shot glasses. Transfer to refrigerator to set, about 1 hour. When fully set, top with whipped cream and a dusting of pumpkin pie spice before serving.
Makes 10 servings. Nutrition per serving: 36 calories; 3 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 9 milligrams cholesterol; 1 gram protein; 1 gram carbohydrate; 1 gram sugar; no fiber; 4 milligrams sodium; 8 milligrams calcium
Recipe from Delish.com
Sweet spiced butternut squash soup
1 medium butternut squash
4 cups vegetable broth
½ teaspoon pumpkin spice mix
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Coconut cream or sour cream for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole squash on baking tray and bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until a knife pokes through skin easily. Remove from oven and let cool. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds; then scoop out flesh into a blender or food processor (you may have to do this in batches).
Add vegetable broth, pumpkin pie spice, salt and maple syrup. Blend until smooth. Heat in pot before serving. Drizzle each bowl with coconut cream or sour cream, if desired.
Makes 4 to 6 servings. Nutrition per serving (based on 4): 92 calories; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 4 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrate; 10 grams sugar; 1 gram fiber; 802 milligrams sodium; 62 milligrams calcium
Recipe from Jeanetteshealthyliving.com
Note: For best results, the cream cheese, eggs and sour cream must be at room temperature. Let them sit on the counter for 4 to 5 hours before cooking. If the cream cheese still feels a bit chilly, microwave it for 15 seconds until it is very smooth but not hot.
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) salted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature (see note)
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
¼ cup sour cream, room temperature (see note)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, room temperature (see note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Add the melted butter and stir until well-combined. Press down flat into the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese thoroughly until absolutely smooth and creamy; a hand-held or stand mixer will work best. Add pumpkin puree, sour cream, granulated sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, stirring or whisking until mixed. Add flour and vanilla; beat until well-combined. Beat the eggs and add, stirring by hand until just combined. Do not overmix.
Put some water on to boil. Wrap bottom of pan with aluminum foil, coming up at least a few inches on all sides. Pour custard into crust and spread out evenly. Place pan in a larger pan and pour in boiling water between them until it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan, but is below the top of the aluminum foil. Cook in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and remove springform pan from water bath. Let sit 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Makes 12 to 16 servings. Nutrition per serving (based on 12): 589 calories; 48 grams fat; 28 grams saturated fat; 194 milligrams cholesterol; 10 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrate; 25 grams sugar; 1 gram fiber; 419 milligrams sodium; 139 milligrams calcium