It’s one of those terribly “basic” things to admit, but my heart beats a little faster when pumpkin spice latte season rolls around (it must be all that extra caffeine). In my defense, my infatuation is strictly with the latte, and not the hundreds of other pumpkin spice-inspired items available. I’ve carefully researched the coffee options, so you don’t have to. From worst to best:
4. McDonald’s Caramel Pumpkin Spice Latte. Their pumpkin spice latte used to be good, but the current iteration is far too sweet. Add to that the general chaos and lousy service, and this is a hard pass.
3. Starbucks. I think this might have been the original one, but it’s also really sweet and something else – I almost want to use the word “sludgy”, which is something your coffee should never, ever be.
2. Tim Horton’s. This is saying something. I’m not a fan of Tim’s overall, but their allegedly handcrafted latte is not wretched. It doesn’t have a terribly strong pumpkin or spicy flavour, but it’s not gag-inducingly sweet, either. If you want something warm, creamy, and soothing, this will take the chill off. (Bonus: The Pumpkin Spice Iced Capp is surprisingly decent, if you can get past the idea of a cold pumpkin drink. Just stay away from the whipped topping; that stuff could probably survive a nuclear bomb.)
1. Second Cup. The ne plus ultra of pumpkin spice lattes. I only wish there were more locations so that I didn’t have to brave the mall every time I want a fix. These are flavourful and not too sweet, and if you haven’t tried one, you must. You’ll never drink Starbucks again.
Ahem. Given that kind of attention to these drinks, it’s probably not surprising that the recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes from the Brown Eyed Baker called to me. I cheated just a little bit and used my pumpkin cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World as the base, only with the coffee and spices recommended by the BEB.
I used instant coffee instead of instant espresso powder because that’s what I had on hand. I also used a bit more than the 4 1/2 teaspoons called for, because it’s not as strong as the espresso. And although you certainly can dissolve 7 or so teaspoons of instant coffee in 1/4 cup of milk, you certainly should not taste it unless you want to never touch coffee again. Bleh. Luckily, by the time it’s mixed in with all the other ingredients, it just lends a nice coffee-ish flavour to the cupcakes without overpowering them.
I topped them with the cream cheese whipped cream as suggested in the recipe, and oh: you can’t go wrong with that stuff. It’s light and fluffy, but doesn’t deflate if it’s out of the fridge for longer than a few minutes. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but if you have leftover whipped cream, it’s also excellent on toast or gingerbread, or eaten straight out of the container with a spoon. I don’t judge. Some caramel sauce and Saigon cinnamon sprinkled on top sealed the deal.
They also release really nicely from their liners and stay moist. Dry cupcakes are the worst!
I made these over Thanksgiving weekend, and although I associate with a band of cookie fans, I have never seen a batch of cupcakes disappear so quickly. This is one recipe that stays in the roster for next year – or, you know, next weekend. 🙂
Thanks for looking! 🙂