holly & flora

pumpkin pie martini with coconut cream + homemade pumpkin spice syrup

Today is the first day it actually feels like fall here in Denver. Cool, rainy, and cozy. Thankfully, I have the day off, and I defiantly plan on staying in my PJs most of the morning. There just may be a Hobbit marathon in the works. I am actually welcoming the idea. I came home from work rather late last night, and my entire house smelled of freshly cut basil. Steve took an inventory of the garden and harvested enough vegetables and herbs to span the surface area of our dining room table. There’s so much here to be grateful for.

Between the Hobbit movies, there will be lots of pesto-making, tomato-puréeing, chutney-prepping, and herb-drying. All of these are easily accomplished in my PJs, for the record. I think the most exciting event this Wednesday, however, is Sara Cornelius of Cake Over Steak‘s fabulous roundup, celebrating all-things-pumpkin! It is a #virtualpumpkinparty, and over 70 bloggers are sharing their favorite pumpkin-inspired recipes.

I couldn’t resist the challenge to create a pumpkin cocktail. And not one of those pumpkin-flavored cocktails with whipped cream vodka and store-bought pumpkin spice syrup. Oh, no. This one’s the real deal, and it’s made with full-fat coconut milk, a bitter amaro, homemade pumpkin spice simple syrup, and aged rum.

And it’s delicious. And you can already thank us all for fulfilling your pumpkin desires throughout the rest of the year.

If you’ve visited Sara’s blog before, you are well aware of her insanely mad illustration skills. At times, I don’t know which of her recipes and food shots are her digital drawings or actual photos. And I can’t believe I somehow missed her post on an elaborate whiskey-tasting party, complete with bourbon cookie dough shots. Good thing I have all of the ingredients to make these today. Maybe that’s a bad thing.

So, pumpkin cocktails. I really haven’t had much luck finding one I liked. For this recipe, I wanted to make sure the final concoction wasn’t cloyingly sweet, was in balance, and didn’t contain anything artificially flavored. I scoured some recipes and finally decided to make a roasted pumpkin-based, spiced simple syrup. I chose a rim, composed of toasted pumpkin seeds, salt, a little sugar, and a dash of cayenne pepper, just enough to offset the sweetness of the drink.

pumpkin pie martini

  1. Run a slice of lemon along the rim of a martini glass {or coupe} and gently coat the edge of the glass in the spiced pumpkin seed rim. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing tin, combine the rum, roasted pumpkin simple syrup, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, Grand Marnier, coconut milk, and bitters.
  3. Add a handful of ice and shake well.
  4. Strain into the martini glass or coupe and serve immediately.

A lot of recipes call for vanilla vodka or an espresso liqueur; however, I really enjoyed pairing the Caribbean flavors of rum and coconut in this fall libation, along with freshly roasted pumpkin. This cocktail is not meant to mimic a PSL, but feel free to use this simple syrup in your next homemade cappuccino or latte. This roasted pumpkin simple syrup is actually inspired by Melissa over at the Faux Martha. I tested out three different pumpkin syrups, and hers was spot-on. I made a few adaptations, but she is the true inspiration. And she’s also participating in the #virtualpumpkinparty!

roasted pumpkin simple syrup

  1. You’re more than welcome to use canned pumpkin, but if you have a pumpkin on-hand, slice it in half, remove the seeds, and place the sides face-down in a casserole or baking dish, filled with about a 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. In a blender, process the water, roasted pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract, sea salt, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg. Let the blender run about 30 seconds or until well incorporated.
  3. Pour the contents into a saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Let the pumpkin mixture slowly simmer for about five minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois into a mason jar. Cool before using or storing in the refrigerator.

The perfect juxtaposition between this slightly sweet cocktail, with its rich, subtle, bitter notes, is the toasted pumpkin seed rim. With a little salt, sugar, and spice, the contrast brings balance to this savory, yet dessert-like, cocktail.

toasted pumpkin seed rim

  1. Blend the toasted pumpkin seeds for about 30 seconds, until the seeds reach a texture of a fine powder.
  2. Add salt, sugar, and chili powder to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Store in an airtight container.

I’ll close with a list of the collaborators in Sara’s pumpkin party, along with a few photos from the last of what’s happening in our garden. I couldn’t resist shooting yet another cocktail alongside all of the fall color. This is my most favorite time of the year, so you’ll probably see a few more fall leaves in this space. Be forewarned.

Big Xs and Os for the rest of the week! And big wishes on enjoying all the things pumpkin!