The Lists

Pumpkin spice products that are actually really good

It’s OK, you can call us basic. We accept that pumpkin spice has lost whatever chic and elegant connotations it may have once had back in the day. Nevertheless, we want the world to know: we love pumpkin spice, and we are not ashamed. In fact, we’re letting our flag fly by sharing our favorite limited-edition pumpkin spice products available in autumn 2018.

Yep, we are among those people who anxiously await The Day When the PSL Arrives at Starbucks. It’s a Moment for us. Please don’t judge.

Are you one of us? Then you understand. Have you ever purchased a pumpkin spice Twinkie? ‘Cause we have. More than once.

How can you not? There are so many options out there right now, who is capable of resisting them all? Pumpkin Spice breakfast cereal, yogurt, and M&Ms — pumpkin-flavored Peeps, Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, Oreos, English muffins, bagels, sandwich bread, cream cheese, potato chips, popcorn, peanut butter, almonds, snack bars, ice cream and Triscuits. Oh, and dog biscuits. And pizza. You’re really not gonna bite on any of these?

Some of them are actually quite tasty (we’re looking at you, Chobani pumpkin & spice yogurt) – and some are just, well, unfortunateWe read a couple of great articles written by reporters who sampled 50 of these or more, and we don’t advise trying that at home.

Instead, in the spirit of luxury research, we decided to try to kick it up a notch this year and investigate this pressing question: Is it possible to experience the joy of pumpkin spice in an artisanal, refined, tech-mogul manner? Can one do it like a boss?

Dear reader, the answer is yes. You just have to know where to look. And trust us: some of these are worth traveling for.

1. In LA, Donut Friend is offering freshly-made Pumpkin Piebald donuts: a pumpkin cake donut topped with a pumpkin glaze and cinnamon sugar crumble. $2.50 each

The Pumpkin Piebald Donut at Donut Friend in LA

2. While you’re on the West Coast, you should probably also swing by Disneyland and sample this year’s Pumpkin Spice beignets in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears, the Pumpkin Spice churros, or the absolutely epic Pumpkin Spice Funnel Cake Fries (topped with both pumpkin spice sauce AND pumpkin spice whipped cream). If that’s not luxury, we don’t know what is.

3. At Lady M Confections in New York and other locations, the elegant Pumpkin Nuage cake is available only from September through December. So you should act now! Combining the best elements of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, it’s spiced with cinnamon and features a light gloss of cream cheese atop a crushed graham cracker base. $80 for a 9″ cake.

Lady M Pumpkin Nuage Cake

4. Williams-Sonoma Pecan Pumpkin ButterWe have to issue an alert on this one. If you love pumpkin spice, this condiment might function in your system the way certain addictive substances do. Basically, it’s like crack for people who love pumpkin spice. Yep, it’s really that good. Put it on toast, or ice cream, or apple slices. Or do what we do, and just eat it right out of the jar. Spoon optional. $12.95 per jar.

Pecan Pumpkin Butter at Williams Sonoma

5. Avery Brewing Co’s Pump[KY]n Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter is rich, with plenty of pumpkin spice flavors in every sip, making it perfect for anytime from now until Thanksgiving dinner. The brewery’s Rumpkin Imperial Pumpkin Ale also consistently gets rave reviews, even from those who say they hate pumpkin beer; it’s aged in rum barrels.

6. The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, located in the “Pumpkin Capital of the World” just north of San Francisco, is highlighting special menu items throughout the month of October. Menus will feature Pumpkin Caramelle with sage, ricotta, and pumpkin pistou; and Roasted Pumpkin Bisque with lobster, pain d’epices, and shiso. There’ll be pumpkin-infused beverages, too. The Indian Summer Cocktail is a whimsical spin on the Mai Tai; the resort will also offer pours of Dogfish Head Punkin’ Ale.

7. Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Spice Panettone. New this year, Williams Sonoma is also offering an autumnal version of this Italian specialty bread usually associated with Christmas. It’s made with candied pumpkin, macaroons, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, by Pasticceria Scarpato, “Italian panettone bakers since 1888.” Stop! We don’t need to know anything more. Just pass us a slice. Please. $46 per loaf.

Pumpkin Spice Panettone at Williams Sonoma

8. Halo Top Creamery Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. First launched last year, this limited-edition flavor from the cult-favorite ice cream brand mixes pumpkin spice-infused ice cream with pie crust pieces – its available in grocery stores from now until the end of November. It was a fan favorite and best-seller last fall, so don’t be surprised if your friends are secretly hoarding it in their freezers. Get it while you can.

Halo Top Creamery Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

9. L.A. Burdick Chocolate Ghosts. To celebrate the 17th anniversary of this luxury chocolatier’s adorable Chocolate Ghost, there’s a new autumn flavor this year: Pumpkin spice cider dark chocolate ganache. Made by hand with organic pumpkin, five different spices, and local New Hampshire apple cider, each little ghost is filled with this new ganache, and covered in white chocolate. We are totally not frightened by these tiny spirits from beyond – in fact, we’ll feel haunted if we don’t grab at least a couple of boxes of these in the coming weeks. $3.75 per ghost, or $18 for a box of 5.

L.A. Burdick Chocolate Ghost

10. Sugarfina Pumpkin Pie Caramels. These addictive little bites are made of smooth caramel surrounded by sweet pumpkin white chocolate, and infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and allspice. Are you kidding us??? Small candy cube (with 12-15 pieces) – $7.50

Sugarfina Pumpkin Spice Caramels

11. Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Madelines. We stumbled across a package of these at our local Starbuck’s on a cold, dreary, rainy Monday morning – and they made our whole day. Some may remember them from 2017 as having frosting drizzled over them, but this year, they’re frosting -free. Fragrant, moist, spicy, and sweet – this is the cure for the workday blues. If you’re a coffee purist, this is also your tactic to avoid being seen ordering a PSL – same taste, different delivery system. We’re all in. $2.75 for a package of three.

This is not a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Madeline, but this is what they look like

Possible Bonus Round: Crystal-clear pumpkin pie. We’re not sure if this adorable member of the pumpkin spice clan will make a re-appearance this year, but here’s hoping. At the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Alinea in Chicago, last fall the then-executive chef Mike Bagale and chef de cuisine Simon Davies created a bite-sized dessert that became a social media sensation: the clear pumpkin pie slice. Its crust was a traditional pâte brisée, but the filling was a distillation of a traditional spiced pumpkin custard. Highly photogenic — and presumably tasty, too — this was the ultimate upgrade to a “basic” item. To which we say: more like this, please!

The Clear Pumpkin Pie at Alinea in Chicago

Once you’ve indulged in all of these high-class pumpkin experiences, you may find yourself in the need of some exercise. Fear not! The Pumpkin Spice 5, 10 and 15K Run in Fort Worth, Texas is November 17. Have fun out there.

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