Fall is upon us and so is the influx of pumpkin-flavored everything. There’s no limit to what comes in the form of a pumpkin, from vodka and Oreos to yogurt and even cream cheese. For a person who isn’t pumpkin-crazed, the fall can feel like a minefield of pumpkin and all the people who love it. How did pumpkin acquire the autumn-season throne when there are so many other warm and flavorful staples? Put a little bounce in your anti-pumpkin step and kick off the fall with these four delicious alternatives to some good old pumpkin favorites that will have everyone going, “What’s a pumpkin?” (Okay, not quite, but you will definitely enjoy these.)
1. Chai Tea Latte – Tired of the pumpkin-spice-latte hype? Try a chai-tea latte, which is prepared like a latte (espresso plus steamed milk) but with a spiced-tea concentrate substituted for the espresso. Not to be confused with a traditional masala chai, which involves first boiling the tea and spices in a mixture of water and milk, a chai-tea latte, as we have come to know it from our specialty coffee shops, uses the spiced-tea concentrate. Nonetheless, it is a warmly spiced, aromatic cold-weather drink with all the comfort and none of the heavy pumpkin flavor. Go crazy and order a “dirty chai”—it’s just a chai latte with a shot of espresso, but it’s so much fun to say.
2. Cinnamon Roll Cocktail – Think that the idea of a “drunken pumpkin” cocktail, or any pumpkin-flavored alcohol, is about as appealing as drinking puddle water? Try this delectable “cinnamon roll” cocktail instead. If you love a good cinnamon roll, then you’ll love this tasty drink. Rum Chata is one of those bottles at the liquor store that I would otherwise roll right over if I didn’t know all the wonderful things you can make with it. Mix three parts Rum Chata and one part Kahlua, or, if you prefer, replace the Kahlua with spiced rum for a less milky consistency. Either way you choose, you will not be disappointed.
3. Pecan Pie – Though pumpkin pie is an old family favorite adored by many, if you’re just one of those people who doesn’t find it appealing, bring a sweet, sticky, crunchy pecan pie to the dessert table instead. Some may argue it’s even better than that plain old pumpkin pie! Ina Garten has a lovely recipe on page 247 of her book Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. Never attempted a pecan pie before? It’s not too bad: In a large bowl, whisk together corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, butter, eggs, bourbon, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Stir in the pecans and pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell you have ready in your pie plate. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the center is just set. Put it aside to cool, and prepare to never turn back.
4. Zucchini Bread – Does mixing bread and pumpkin sound just as unappetizing as the pie? No worries. Zucchini bread is deceivingly delicious and pretty darn easy to make. Grease and flour two 8 x 4–inch pans and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. You need sifted flour (3 cups), salt (1 tsp), baking powder (1 tsp), baking soda (1 tsp), and cinnamon (3 tsp). Mix it all together in a bowl, then beat (3) eggs, vegetable oil (1 cup), vanilla (3 tsp), and sugar (2¼ cup) together in another bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the egg mixture and beat well. Stir in grated zucchini (2 cups) and chopped walnuts (1 cup) until well combined. Pour batter into pans and bake for 40 to 60 minutes. Try not to eat it all in one sitting. No, seriously.
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