Recipe: Prima's Perfect PSL For the Cafe

PSL for the Cafe Recipe Card

Our original Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe was perfection, but it's not for novices. What if we told you we've got an ace up our sleeve in the form of an even simpler one-pot version? Take a look and get ready for the best house-made PSL you've ever had!

It’s been a few years since I first released my "Perfect Pumpkin Spice" recipe. After a few weeks of testing, trial, and error, I had concocted a pumpkin spice sauce that tasted like an honest-to-goodness pumpkin pie. In order to get there, I focused almost entirely on getting the flavors right and mostly ignored the amount of work that went into the recipe. In home cooking, recipes can often be maximum-effort-maximum-reward in that way (ever try making your own macarons?), so I didn’t think much of it. However, in the last few years I’ve heard one question more than any regarding that recipe: how can I make this simpler for my cafe?

As the names below will suggest, I went through some iteration to get to the final recipes. My original “Perfect” PSL was #4, as I had played with a few recipes to get to that point. The challenge of converting the original pie-in-a-cup recipe to something that would be easier for a shop to make in-house was both enticing and fun to work through. Now, three attempts later, I had a one-pot (plus one blender) PSL sauce that was rich, spicy, sweet, and best of all could be sourced entirely from the usual supplier - for the cafes here in Louisville, at least.

PSL #7 is not all that complicated to make, utilizes everybody’s favorite canned pumpkin, and takes full advantage of the deliciousness that we know as browned butter. Replicating the flavors of pie without actually baking anything in an oven is a tricky thing, but my previous post does make note of a few isolated elements to focus on: caramelized sugars, cooked butter, and cooked flour, plus the slight hint of salt. For this recipe, we’re going to get right to the point and brown a stick of butter, and then we’re going to lightly cook the canned pumpkin in the butter to further develop some flavor.

We’re also going to add some malted milk powder into the mix to emulate pie crust. If you’ve never had it on its own, malted milk powder is just a combination of powdered dry milk and finely ground malted grain flour. Malting is the process of briefly germinating grain seeds, so they begin to break down some of their stored starch into sugars. The grains are dried and milled, and the resulting powder tastes like a sweeter, more complex flour. Combined with powdered milk and mixed into a slurry with water, malted milk tastes….not great, but interesting. It has some sweetness to it from the milk and grain, but also some of the complexity you would find in a pie crust. As part of the whole, it is an important element that really rounds out the flavor.

Without further ado, here’s how to make an insanely delicious PSL sauce for your cafe:

Cafe-friendly Pumpkin Spice #7

A delicious and rich pumpkin spice sauce for lattes that taste just like pie!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 nutmeg nut, cracked into pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (about 2 inches long each)
  • 1.5 cups cool water
  • 0.5 cup demarara sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 10 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup cool water
  • 2 tablespoons malted milk powder + 2 tablespoons water to form a slurry
  • 0.25 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon ground pumpkin spice mix
  • pinch of sea salt

Add whole spices and water to a pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce liquid by about 3/4, add sugar. Reduce heat to medium and stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Strain into a heat-safe container and set aside. Rinse and wipe out pan and return to medium heat. Add stick of butter and melt fully. Reduce heat to low and allow butter to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Butter will foam and begin to smell nutty just before the browning has finished (careful, it can also burn at this stage). Once butter solids have browned and settled to the bottom, add the full can of pumpkin to the pan (it may splatter, try to get it all in the pan quickly and spread out to prevent spraying). Increase heat to medium high and cook pumpkin, stirring continuously, until the color has darkened slightly and it smells a little like pumpkin pie. Add all remaining ingredients plus reserved spice syrup, reduce heat to low, and stir to combine. Cut the heat as soon as the mixture begins to bubble. Carefully transfer to a blender, attach lid tightly and puree until smooth. Recipe yields about 1 quart of pumpkin sauce. Use 30 g of sauce for a 12 fl oz latte, mix with the espresso and a dash of cinnamon, then top with milk.

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Yield: Apprx 1 quart sauce


Now, as delicious as butter is, not everybody is going to expect their pumpkin spice sauce to be full of a whole stick of it, plus condensed milk and malt powder. If you’d prefer a vegan version of the above, I’ve got you covered! I prefer the browned butter version myself, but I’m also happy to say that the vegan version is in fact just as good.

Pumpkin Spice #8 - Vegan-friendly!

A vegan-friendly pumpkin spice sauce that makes no sacrifices on flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 nutmeg nut, cracked into pieces
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (about 2 inches long each)
  • 1.5 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup sugar in the raw
  • ½ cup vegan “butter” spread, or refined coconut oil
  • 1.5 cup chopped vegan graham crackers
  • 1 10 oz can Libby pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup (or light molasses)
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons ground pumpkin spice mix
  • Pinch of sea salt

Add whole spices and water to a pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce liquid by about 3/4, add sugar. Reduce heat to medium and stir until sugar is fully dissolved. Strain into a heat-safe container and set aside. Rinse and wipe out pan and return to medium low heat. Add vegan spread (I used Earth Balance, which has some lactic acid included to give it a more buttery flavor) to the pan and allow to melt slightly before adding chopped grahams. Carefully stir and brown the crackers until they take on a golden brown color and smell nice and toasty. Once the crackers have browned, add the full can of pumpkin to the pan (it may splatter, try to get it all in the pan quickly and spread out to prevent spraying). Increase heat to medium high and cook pumpkin, stirring continuously, until the color has darkened slightly and it smells a little like pumpkin pie. Add all remaining ingredients plus reserved spice syrup, reduce heat to low, and stir to combine. Cut the heat as soon as the mixture begins to bubble. Carefully transfer to a blender, attach lid tightly and puree until smooth. Recipe yields about 1 quart of pumpkin sauce. On the graham crackers: Nabisco’s “red box” grahams are already vegan, as they are sweetened with molasses instead of honey and don’t have any dairy-derived additives like whey isolate. If you can’t find a suitable graham cracker, try a ginger snap or molasses cookie instead - they’ll only enhance the spiciness or sweetness of the sauce! And of course, feel free to sub in your favorite gluten-free alternative if needed.

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Yield: 1 quart of sauce

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