We’re well into the season for pumpkin spice everything. Pumpkin spice lattes. Pumpkin spice fettuccine (I swear I didn’t make that up). Even pumpkin spice foie gras, which sounds like a tragic food dare.
Pumpkin spice has become so infuriatingly ubiquitous, it’s garnering the ire of skeptics.
Is the backlash building because most pumpkin-spiced stuff doesn’t actually contain any honest-to-goodness pumpkin? (That should be against the law.)
Is mocking it so much fun because retailers keep pushing the time frame for when pumpkin spice floods the market? Pumpkin spice lattes should not be an option when it’s still summer. Come on. What’s next? Christmas decorations on store shelves in October? Oh, wait.
Well, it’s pumpkin dessert season through Thanksgiving, no matter how you slice that pie. And the truth is that seriously good pumpkin desserts are cycling through bakery and sweet shops this month and next in the run up to Thanksgiving.
I’m skipping the mocking for just a moment in favor of directing your attention to some of the tastiest pumpkin treats I’ve found so far this season, just in time for Halloween, the day when we all should indulge in one treat or, ahem, 20 (remember — calories from fun-size candy bars don’t count).
And all of these desserts actually contain pumpkin. I swear. And, yeah, some are spiced. Let’s try not to mock them, OK?
CELEBRITY CAKE STUDIO
• Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, $3.50
Odette D’Aniello’s pumpkin cupcakes looked so dense, they could have doubled as muffins, but looks proved deceiving. They carried D’Aniello’s signature feathery cake texture. (Speaking of her cake, check out the bakery’s Facebook page to see her stunning party cake designs).
She finished her pumpkin cupcakes with an orange cream cheese frosting piped to look like a mini pumpkin, plopped right on top. Pumpkin cupcakes will be available for at least another month.
• Three layer pumpkin cake, $4.50 per slice
• Mini gluten-free pumpkin loaf, $2.50
Pumpkin eaters have multiple options at Tacoma’s Corina Bakery. There’s the luscious three-layer pumpkin cake loaded up with creamy clouds of frosting and decorated with autumnal sugar edibles. Don’t worry raisin haters, the cake here was clean. I ate most of it just to be sure. Corina’s pumpkin scones have become so popular, I’ve found them sold out — twice. I appreciated that Corina Bakery, as with Celebrity Cake Studio, aims its bakery case at the gluten-free crowd. I found a mini gluten-free pumpkin loaf that broke off into moist slices, without begin gummy, a flaw I find often in gluten-free desserts. The loaf skewed low on sweetness, high on spice.
ICE CREAM SOCIAL
• Pumpkin ice cream, scoops $3-$5.75; pints $7
Imagine a pumpkin pie and a big pile of whipped cream get together and make an ice cream, and you’ve got what I call Pumpkin Crack at Ice Cream Social, the scoop shop from Layla Isaac that opened this summer. Seasonal flavors abound at this ice cream store, and I fully admit to eating more than one scoop of Isaac’s salted caramel ice cream. Her seasonal pumpkin ice cream, light on the spice, is one of those desserts ideal for the Thanksgiving table.
• Pumpkin turnovers, $1.30
• Pumpkin cream cheese muffins, $1.30
I felt as if I hit the pumpkin mother lode at Orting Bakery, a small bakery and cafe nudged into tiny downtown Orting.
I dug the dreamy poofs of pumpkin cream cheese filling inside flaky turnovers with a pleasing crunchy coating of sanding sugar. If there’s one thing this bakery has mastered besides its cookies, it’s those sugar-coated turnovers.
Also find pumpkin muffins with a drizzle of icing and big blobs of cream cheese. You’ll want a glass of milk to go along. Beware raisin haters, I found a sole golden raisin in my muffin. A bakery worker swore by phone that they only add one or two raisins per muffin, though.
Recently spotted at the bakery: Pumpkin cheesecake and mini pumpkin pies.
MORE PUMPKIN TO TRY
Also spotted around town: Pumpkin pie shakes at the retro burger diner Shake Shake Shake are worth a special trip to the Stadium neighborhood. Hello, Cupcake has pumpkin spice cupcakes through November. I spotted pumpkin-chocolate truffles last week in the candy case at the Hilltop’s Johnson Candy Co.
For you caramel fans, I’ve been seeing plenty of that around town. Try these:
The caramel frosted cinnamon rolls at Corina Bakery are worth a special trip for any lover of a yeasty cinnamon bun. Check out the open-faced nut caramels at Johnson Candy Co. They come in milk or dark chocolate. I thought I died and went to salted-caramel heaven when I paired up the chocolate salted caramel cupcake from Celebrity Cake Studio with Ice Cream Social’s salted caramel ice cream.