Tag Archives: cinnamon

Homemade PSL

Homemade (and Cheaper) Pumpkin Spice Latte

One time I went over to my boss’ home for coffee and paperwork. The coffee she was brewing smelled so good, I thought it was some specialty flavored kind. It tasted richly of cinnamon and milk.

Then she let me in on her secret: it was just regular ground coffee but she added a few taps of ground cinnamon to the top of the coffee grounds before brewing. It was like drinking flavored coffee!

This year, with the presence of Starbucks around the corner from my apartment (and really anyone’s apartment in Manhattan), I’ve been drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes like I have $5 to spend on daily coffee.

They are a deliciously warm and remind me of good autumnal times. But let’s be honest, they are full of sugar, fake sugar, chemicals and cost a million dollars (not really, but they’re not cheap).

So even though I don’t think I’ll totally quit my Sbux habit, I have come up with an equally (although less syrupy-sugary-sweet) yummy version of the #PSL that I can make at home.

While I’ve been a devoted cinnamon-shaker ever since that morning when I learned my boss’ trick, I never thought about taking it to the next level in terms of adding AAAALLLLL the pumpkin pie spices.

So that’s what I did: after measuring out my ground coffee, I sprinkled a good amount of cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, a bit less of ginger and threw in some whole cloves (although ground would’ve been fine too) on top of the coffee, and brewed away.

The result was coffee that tasted like pumpkin pie! Without any added chemicals, syrups, sweeteners or sugar.

coffee, spouted cup, milk frother
coffee, spouted cup, milk frother

Now, you could just add milk and call it a day. Or sugar, or simple syrup if you like your coffee sweet.

But I took it a step further and warmed some milk up in a pot (not to boiling but almost) and transferred it to a mug with a spout (I have a special metal one for frothing milk but a measuring cup would do too).

warming-milk
warming milk

Using an aerolatte milk frother that we got for our wedding, and a technique I learned while barista-ing it up at my bakery gig, I added some creamy warm milk and latte foam to the top of my coffee ~ instant pumpkin spice latte!

So here’s the trick: either keep the frother near the bottom of the cup of milk and keep it steady to create some foam but also to generally steam the milk; or move the wand slowly up and then slowly back down to create tons of foam ~ more like cappuccino-style, less warm milk, more foam.

Maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon to top it off? And even if you don’t have the milk frother, just add warm milk to your pumpkin spice coffee, try it and let me know what you think!

Homemade PSL
Homemade PSL
warm Lebkuchen with icing

German Spice Cookies: Lebkuchen with Icing

This holiday season, my mom and I baked up a batch of these Lebkuchen ~ traditional German Christmas cookies that taste like gingerbread, but surprisingly have NO ginger in them! (Is that a fair description, Oliver?)

finished German spice cookie
yummy cookie!

The cookie recipe we tried was actually one that she received from Viking River Cruises (I guess mom’s on that mailing list).

They Lebkuchen cookies were chewy and certainly extremely spicy and rich. Definitely to be enjoyed with an English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea, or perhaps a light German beer like Paulaner or Spaten.

The ingredients and steps are fairly straightforward, but be warned that you need to plan ahead because the dough is to be chilled overnight. Have fun!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
(We didn’t end up having enough honey so we added more molasses to make up 1 cup of these two ingredients ~ 1 to 1 substitution)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 + 3/4 cup flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg

German spice cookies ingredients
German spice cookies ingredients

The recipe then also calls for 1/3 cup of candied citron and 1/3 cup of hazelnuts ~ We omitted both of these.

Okay, side note here: I did not know what citron was…I assumed it was candied lemon peel. Ooops. No. It is not. It is a fruit unto itself. There are different varietals and guess what one of them is? Etrog!!! As in Lulav and Etrog! (Staples in the Sukkot holiday for my non-Jewish friends.) So that’s a fun factoid for ya! Here’s a recipe for making your own candied citron.

To make the icing, you will need:
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of milk (or water)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

To Make:
1. Bring honey and molasses to a boil and then remove from heat


2. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and zest
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 + 3/4 cup flour, baking soda, and spices
4. Stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture (also this is when you would add the candied citron and chopped hazelnuts)


5. Cover & chill overnight

Next day:
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
7. Roll out a bit of your dough on a floured surface until about a 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky
8. Use a cookie cutter or clean glass to cut circular cookies out of the dough [Repeat #7 and #8 with the rest of the dough]


9. Move the cookies to the baking sheets and cook for 10-12 minutes
10. Transfer the cookies to a rack for cooling and brush with icing while still warm
11. Decorate with almonds, candied citron or crystallized ginger

While the cookies are baking, make the icing as follows:
1. Heat sugar, milk (or water) and vanilla on the stove but do not boil


2. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar
3. Reheat as needed to maintain the liquid state as you brush it over the top of the warm cookies