The Ultimate Gourmet Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe (Pumpkin Pie Masala)
We know pumpkin pie spice is a seasonal clichée, however we also know spice, and we can't resist making spice blends. This idea started about a year ago when we got curious about this Western spice mix (we call it a masala), and wondered how it could we could make it more interesting. Eventually we developed our own mixture using some Indian spices and techniques to make the flavour really dazzle.
After talking it over a little, we decided to use all the Indian dessert spices, and tested the amounts of each. We came up with a recipe that is true to the original character of pumpkin pie spice, but that has a delightfully complex twist that no other pumpkin pie spice can match. A truly unique, Indian-style pumpkin pie masala.
Here is our recipe:
Gourmet Pumpkin Pie Spice Ingredients
In India spices are typically kept whole and ground as needed. To get all these ingredients, you'll likely need to visit an Indian grocery store. The only thing they likely won't have is whole allspice, which you can find pretty much anywhere else. Using whole spices is an essential part of this process.
- 2 whole nutmegs
- 1 blade of dried mace
- 1 heaping tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 heaping tablespoon whole allspice
- 1-2 average-sized tej patta or Indian bay leaf (about 1/4 tsp, ground)
- 10-12 cinnamon quills (about 20 grams, or a similar quantity of cassia bark), smashed.
- 1 rounded tbsp fresh ground ginger.
- 1 whole green cardamom pod
Gourmet Pumpkin Pie Spice Method
Here is where it gets fun.
1. Heat a frying pan to medium heat.
2. Add mace, cloves, tej patta, cardamom, and about half your cinnamon quills (or cassia bark), to the pan. You'll want to toast these for 1-2 minutes until they are fragrant, but not burning. Spices should just begin to darken (when the tej patta browns just slightly, you may remove all spices) Set these ingredients aside.
3. By now your kitchen should smell amazing. Grate your nutmeg using a rasp or a grater.
4. When that's done, you're ready to add your toasted and untoasted spices to the grinder (a coffee grinder will do in a pinch, but you may have to grind the spices piecemeal and mix them afterward).
That's it! Now you've got about an exceptionally strong, impressively-flavoured pumpkin pie spice that will impress and delight the pumpkin pie spice lovers in your life. You may want to use 1/2 or 2/3 the amount of what you would normally use for pumpkin pie spice. Even fresh out of the clubhouse container, the pre-ground, pre-blended spice can lose significant flavour.
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A Little Theory on this Gourmet Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe
What brought this recipe together is a knowledge of the origin and flavour profiles of the many spices used in this recipe, and the other typically complimentary flavours of the new spices we introduced into the recipe. Pumpkin pie spice is a combination of mainly cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Cloves and allspice both contain eugenol and have a similar properties, which is why a lot of pumpkin pie spice recipes use both. Toasting the cloves and other spices cooks the volatile oils, slightly altering their character. What you lose through flavour intensity through this process, you gain in character.
Mace and Nutmeg are related spices because they are a part of the same fruit, and contain most of the same alkaloids. Mace is sweeter, but also muskier and more complex. We found splitting the nutmeg and mace evenly in this recipe took it too far from the original recipe, but that the mace worked extremely well as an accent, especially toasted.
We've used two sources of cinnamon flavour, the first is the bark which can come in the form of quills or the unaltered dried bark of cinnamomum cassia, and the second is the leaf, which has a bitter, bay-like flavour. The toasted leaf (known as Indian Bay) brings a slightly bitter note that nonetheless blends perfectly with the rest of this spice mix.
Finally, a cardamom pod gives that lively kick that goes so well with deserts, like apples and pears. We're using one pod, so it doesn't overwhelm the rest of the spice mix.
If you're interested in finding out more about how to make delicious Indian food and work with spices, we have an excellent guide on cooking authentic Indian food at home, as well as a blog post on the top 24 Indian Spices on our website. Hit up our facebook page and let us know what you thought of this recipe.