I was sitting on the couch the other day while visions of pumpkin muffins, warm chai lattes and falling red leaves danced in my head. “Pumpkin chai lattes!” I exclaimed. “Why haven’t I had one of those?! Do those even exist?!” Sometimes inspiration strikes out of nowhere.
Then I consulted google, as food bloggers do in this situation, and yet again, I wasn’t the first person to come up with this brilliant concept. If you want one right now, you can order one at the Starbucks nearest you.
Regardless, I set out to create my own ideal pumpkin chai latte. I wanted a creamy, maple-sweetened latte made with real pumpkin and plenty of warming spices. I wanted a treat that I could enjoy in the morning (made with regular chai tea) or evening (made with decaffeinated chai rooibos tea). I wanted all that without a bazillion calories—not because I am a calorie counter, but because I don’t like to drink my calories.
I kept tinkering with the proportions of ingredients and finally nailed it on the fourth attempt. I brewed some strong chai tea and added extra spices because the chai lattes at coffee shops are almost never spicy enough for me. (Did you know that cinnamon is really good for you?)
I used a base of plain, unsweetened almond milk so I could add maple syrup (for that delicious caramel flavor) without making the drink too sweet. The pumpkin contributes some creaminess, but the blended latte still wasn’t as rich and creamy as a latte made with whole milk.
That’s when I thought to try adding a little bit of arrowroot starch, which I’ve used in my coconut milk ice creams (like this chai ice cream!) and more recently, in cream-less red pepper soup. Arrowroot powder was just the ticket—I got to enjoy a super rich and creamy pumpkin chai latte without feeling like I’d consumed a milkshake afterward. The whole drink clocks in at only 90 calories. Success!
For these photos, I wanted a creamy, foamy top, so I added coconut whipped cream to my lattes. It definitely made the drinks more rich, sweet and indulgent, but I quite honestly preferred them without. It was just a little too much for me.
I’ve overheard enough people ordering lattes to know that everyone’s particular about their drinks (half-caff almond milk latte with one pump sugar-free vanilla for Sally?), so I’m including the whipped cream in case that’s your jam. Just know that the whipped cream was not included in the nutrition facts. I honestly don’t know how to calculate the facts for the whipped cream since it’s made from the cream from a can of coconut.
- 1 tea bag of spiced chai (or decaf spiced chai rooibos)
- ½ cup plain, unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice*
- 2 tablespoons real pumpkin purée
- 1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Dash nutmeg
- Dash cloves
- Tiny dash salt
- ½ teaspoon arrowroot starch or cornstarch (optional, makes the latte super creamy)
- Optional garnishes: 1 cinnamon stick or star of anise, coconut whipped cream
- 1 can (14 ounces) full fat coconut milk, chilled at least 10 hours (the coconut milk MUST be full fat and MUST be refrigerated for at least 10 hours. Put a mixing bowl in the freezer to chill while you're at it.)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup water to a gentle boil. Remove the water from heat, add the tea bag, and let it steep for 4 minutes. Before removing the tea bag, squeeze any water remaining out by pressing the tea bag against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon.
- Add the almond milk, pumpkin purée, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt to the pan. Whisk in the optional arrowroot starch or cornstarch. Pour the mixture into a stand blender and blend for a minute or two, until the components are blended together and the drink is nice and creamy. (You can alternatively use an immersion blender, but I had much better results with my stand blender.)
- Pour the mixture back into your pan and gently rewarm on the stove, then pour it into a mug. Top with totally optional whipped coconut cream and/or garnish with totally optional cinnamon stick or star of anise.
- To make the coconut whipped cream: Pull out the chilled can of coconut milk and mixing bowl. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the solid coconut cream into the chilled bowl (you can use the remaining coconut water in smoothies). Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream until fluffy and smooth. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon and gently blend again to combine. Use the coconut cream immediately or cover and store in the fridge for later (it will be soft at room temperature and more firm when cold).
Nutrition information calculated with My Fitness Pal.
More spiced pumpkin treats: gluten-free pumpkin oat pancakes, vegan pumpkin pecan scones and maple-sweetened pumpkin muffins.
P.s. I’m over on my pal Ali’s blog, Gimme Some Oven, sharing 10 things I’ve learned about life in general. Spoiler alert: buy a steamer.