Lifehack: Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait Recipe

cup of pumpkin spice cafe au lait on a background of coffee beans

It’s fall again, officially, so yay!  It’s the time of year I look forward to most, not just because the weather is so nice, but because I can once again get a pumpkin spice latte.

I willingly admit my serious obsession with all things pumpkin, especially when I can drink my pumpkin-fix while driving my car.  But I will also admit to not liking the drive-through coffee price tag or the disappointing fact that the latte I fiendishly crave is, in fact, mostly chemicals I can’t pronounce.

So this year, I decided to try to concoct my own version of a pumpkin spice latte and created instead the Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait.

Café au lait is simply French for “coffee with milk.”  And where I’m from — les français beaucoup influencé Mississippi Gulf Coast, about an hour east of NOLA — the lait is always chaud.  That is to say, warm.

Café au lait is warm milk added in equal parts to very strong, black coffee.  If you’ve ever been to the famous NOLA hot spot Cafe Du Monde, you know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t had café au lait at Cafe Du Monde, get yourself there as fast as you can, and be sure to order beignets with your coffee.  But, I digress… Back to the recipe redux at hand.

While my Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait Recipe is decidedly different from the coffee house-style latte I adore despite its chemically-begat nature, it does stay true to the idea of a comforting, harvest-flavored caffeine jolt, guaranteed to warm your heart and put a spring in your step.

And although I slaved the entire of last weekend — hand to sweaty brow, apron stained orange with pumpkin, and lactose bloated — my effort will be to your benefit.  I succeeded in creating what I deem to be a very fine cup o’ joe, indeed.

Pumpkin Spice Café Au Lait Recipe

2- cups very strong brewed coffee. A chicory coffee would be the traditional choice, but any dark roast coffee or even espresso will work.

2-cups milk (I used whole milk because it has more body, but low-fat should work okay, too. I don’t recommend non-fat milk for this recipe.)

1-tablespoon pure vanilla extract, or to taste

2-3 Tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Syrup or to taste (recipe follows)

Add vanilla to milk and heat over low heat in a heavy sauce pan, stirring occasionally, until it begins to steam.  The milk should be very hot, but not boiling. Be careful not to allow the milk to scorch. If desired, pour hot milk into a measuring cup with a spout, to make adding it to the coffee easier.

Next, add 1 generous tablespoon or so of the Pumpkin Spice Syrup to the bottom of a large coffee mug.  Then pour about 1 cup of coffee directly from your coffee pot into the mug while at the same time adding the same amount of hot milk.  Stir and enjoy.  Makes 2 servings.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon Wild Oats Organic Cinnamon

1/16 teaspoon Wild Oats Organic Cayenne Pepper (or to taste)

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup organic pure pumpkin

Mix sugar and water together in a small saucepan. Heat mixture to boiling, until sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture looks clear, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat. Add pumpkin and spices to mixture, stirring to combine, and simmer mixture another 3-4 minutes on low.  This will eliminate any uncooked squash taste and incorporate the spice flavors well.  Set mixture aside to cool.  When mixture is cooled, strain into a large, wide-mouth glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the fridge for up to a month. Makes about 3 cups syrup. Also delish over ice cream, waffles or hot, homemade biscuits.

**If you don’t like cayenne pepper, leave it out — although it gives this spicy mix an added kick!


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