I always hear a lot of buzz out there when Pumpkin Spice Lattes make their first appearance at Starbucks. It means that Fall has finally arrived. It means that many of us can, at last, enjoy our favorite espresso drink again.
Only drawback is, they are pretty pricey. There's a solution to that: make your own. I first got the idea from a fun food blog that recently shared a delicious homemade version of a pumpkin spice latte. Eureka! Exciting to find a way to make this yummy drink at home and save the $4 at Starbucks. That got me thinking . . .
. . . I thought I would like to make these when I had friends over, 'cause I knew they would love them, too. . . .
. . .then I thought it would be a lot of work to make individual lattes for a large group. I'd have to stand next to my espresso maker throughout the party. . . .
. . .then I remembered seeing the idea on Good Morning America to make flavored coffee drinks in a slow cooker. . . .
. . .then I thought it would be fun to combine two of my favorite Starbucks latte flavors: maple (which they no longer offer, boo-hoo) and pumpkin spice.
So, my yummy friends, that is the rambling path that lead me to create this recipe for Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I've played around with the ingredients for the past few days, and have finally settled on this version. I may have consumed a little more caffeine than usual in the tasting process, so maybe I'll have enough of a buzz to avoid dozing off on the couch tonight. Okay. Not likely. I'm a couch dozer. Can't help it.
As an aside, I must confess that King-Man and I can be snobs about our coffee. We freshly grind our beans, we drink it black and strong, we drink it immediately after it's brewed. So, it was a stretch for me, a confessed snooty coffee drinker, to make a coffee drink that isn't freshly brewed and consumed immediately. Truth is though, once you start adding a bunch of milk and flavors to espresso or coffee, the freshness issue becomes relatively moot. The coffee flavor is diluted by everything else--it's more of a dessert drink--guess that's why I like it. This drink is actually better after the flavors have mulled for a couple of hours.
On to the recipe. There's not much to explain, this is just so dang easy. You assemble the ingredients, dump them in the crock pot, let them cook for 2 hours. Done! I only have a few photos, because it's that easy. But, I will share some tips and variations.
Easy instructions for making Slow Cooker Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Assemble these ingredients: Espresso or very strong coffee, milk (I use 2%), maple syrup (can substitute brown sugar), vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, canned pumpkin.
For a non-dairy, vegan version of this recipe, simply swap out almond milk for the regular milk. Tastes great either way. The almond milk version isn't creamy like when it's made with cow's milk, but it tastes good. It separates some as it cooks, so you need to give it a stir before pouring it into the mug.
Combine, cover, & cook. Add everything to a slow cooker, whisk it together, and cook on high for 2-3 hours. This makes 14 cups. I make it in a 6-1/2 qt Crock Pot. If your slow cooker isn't big enough, you can make a smaller batch or cook it in a large pot on the stove. On the stove top, heat it at a low setting so the milk doesn't scorch. Whether in the slow cooker or on top of the stove, it needs to cook awhile to mull the flavors.
Note about the pumpkin: Some of the pumpkin dissolves into the liquid and flavors it throughout, but some pumpkin will remain undissolved and settle into the bottom of the cooker. I prefer to ladel my latte's off of the top, leaving the pumpkin in the cooker. But that's up to you. If you want the actual pumpkin in your mug and not just the flavor, stir the mixture and dip from the bottom when you serve up a cup.
A FEW TIPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS:
To brew espresso strength coffee for this recipe, in a drip coffeemaker use 1.5 cups ground coffee to 4 measuring cups of water. Or, use a cold-brew coffee concentrate; see my post on making iced coffee to learn how to make cold-brew concentrate.
For an iced latte, after cooking to mull the flavors, chill in refrigerator and serve over ice.
To make it caffeine-free, substitute decaf coffee or espresso.
To make it sugar free, substitute your favorite sugar substitute for the maple syrup.
Don't like maple? Substitute brown sugar for the maple syrup.
Spike it with a shot of rum in each mug before adding the hot latte mixture.
Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle top with cinnamon or nutmeg, garnish with a cinnamon stick. (all of these are optional)
Have leftovers? Refrigerate the leftovers and reheat them later. You can even reheat these latte's a cup at a time in the microwave.
To make Spiced Mocha Lattes. Same recipe, except omit the pumpkin, add 1 cup cocoa powder (or more, to taste). If not sweet enough, add some sugar.
My favorite way to serve lattes: Sometimes I offer a shot of rum if I'm serving these for an after dinner drink. And they always get topped with fresh whipped cream. You can whip up cream with a mixer, or use one of these instant whipped cream gadgets--simply add cream, sugar, and vanilla to the canister and it instantly creates and dispenses whipped cream.
At a recent party, I set up self-serve lattes for guests to enjoy. They were very popular!
Leftovers? Put the latte mixture in a jar or pitcher and refrigerate. It will keep in the fridge for several days. You can heat up the whole batch again on top of the stove or in your slow cooker. Or, you can heat up one mug full at a time. I love having this on hand in the fridge for making a quick latte.
4 cups espresso or very strong coffee (see brewing tip in directions)
1/2 gallon (8 cups) milk--1% or 2% (may substitute almond milk for non-dairy vegan version)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin (plain, not flavored)
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (View recipe for making your own pumpkin pie spice at: www.theyummylife.com/recipes/24)
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker, cook on high for 2-3 hours. May also be cooked on low on the stove top. A few tips and substitutions: --To brew espresso strength coffee, in a drip coffeemaker use 1.5 cups ground coffee to 4 measuring cups of water. --For an iced latte, after cooking to mull the flavors, chill in refrigerator and serve over ice. --To make it caffeine-free, substitute decaf coffee or espresso. --To make it sugar free, substitute your favorite sugar substitute for the maple syrup. --Don't like maple? Substitute brown sugar for the maple syrup. --Spike it with a shot of rum in each glass before adding the hot latte mixture. --Top with whipped cream. Homemade tastes the best, but it's fast and easy to spray out of a can when you have lots of guests. Sprinkle top with cinnamon or nutmeg, garnish with a cinnamon stick. (all of these are optional) --Have leftovers? Refrigerate the leftovers and reheat them later. You can even reheat these latte's a cup at a time in the microwave. --To make Spiced Mocha Lattes. Same recipe, except omit the pumpkin, add 1 cup cocoa powder (or more, to taste).
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This makes whipped cream instantly. Simply add cream, sweetener, vanilla or other desired flavor. Put on the lid, and PRESTO, it dispenses perfectly whipped cream. Store in the fridge for up to a week (or until freshness date on the cream expires).