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.
Trouble is, they are pretty pricey and high in calories. There's a solution to that: make your own. I decided to figure out a slow cooker latte recipe so I could make a big batch for a brunch party. The slow cooker keeps them warm throughout and makes them a self serve beverage; that way I don't have to stand next to my espresso machine making individual lattes throughout the party.
I combined two of my favorite Starbucks latte flavors: maple (which they no longer offer, boo-hoo) and pumpkin spice. The result is easy, crowd pleasing Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes that can be ladled into mugs one right after the other.
After some playing around with the ingredients, I 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. In fact, by far, the most expensive small appliance in our kitchen is an automatic espresso machine. (I love it almost as much as my children.) 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.
This recipe is healthified and has half the calories!
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 (may substitute brown sugar), vanilla, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice (buy it or make pumpkin pie spice with my recipe)
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. I haven't tried this recipe using coconut milk, but I'm guessing it would work well. If you try it, please let me now in the comments section. I'd love some feedback on how it turns out.
view on Amazon: almond milk
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 ladle 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:
Taste and make adjustments. Everyone has different preferences regarding sweetness and strength of the coffee flavor. So, taste it and make adjustments as needed. You can stir in more sweetener or expresso/coffee to suite your taste.
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.
view on Amazon: instant whipped cream dispenser
For another FAST & EASY homemade whipped cream, try Ali's method at Gimme Some Oven: How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream in 30 Seconds.
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.
I like to use cinnamon sticks for stir stick garnishes. Whipped cream and a sprinkle of a little extra cinnamon on top, and I'm a happy girl.
This is so easy and so good. It's a perfect drink to serve at a fall breakfast or brunch, or as an after dinner drink. So now, it's time to PARTY!
Make it a Yummy day!
Other seasonal posts that may interest you:
This recipe is featured at the Huffington Post as one of the top 10 pumpkin recipes (out of 100).
This post was updated 9/2016.