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Pumpkin Season In Full Swing

Lexie Barker |
September 27, 2013 | 2:00 p.m. PDT

Staff Contributor

A selection of pumpkin food and drink (Lexie Barker/Neon Tommy).
A selection of pumpkin food and drink (Lexie Barker/Neon Tommy).
Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately called "PSL," returned to stores Sept. 2. It’s been 10 years since the drink debuted and, to many, the beverage marks the beginning of fall. Without the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, how else would those of us in Southern California know? 

With 200 million sold to date, the "Pumpkin Spice Latte" is the company’s most popular seasonal beverage and arguably the drink that inspired 1,000 pumpkin dishes. In the wake of the latte’s success, numerous food chains and retailers began featuring pumpkin on their menus and stocking it on their shelves as soon as summer began to fade. 

Pumpkin has become the quintessential fall ingredient and the focus of culinary attention during its autumnal cameo. Last October, New York magazine even heralded pumpkin season with its "Pumpkin is the New Bacon" story.  

It was quite an endorsement for the humble gourd, but given pumpkin’s prevalence in everything from lattes and muffins to harvest ales and soups, it proved to be an honest assessment.

This year, as Starbucks campaigns for “Devotion to Pumpkin” and Noah’s New York Bagels wants you to “Fall for Pumpkin,” the pumpkin continues to enjoy the spotlight from foodies and chefs alike.

Noah’s actually synched the launch of its pumpkin menu with the return of the "PSL." Pumpkin white chocolate cookies and blended drink "Frozen Pumpkin Pie" were introduced to Noah's line-up that already featured pumpkin bagels and pumpkin shmear. 

Other retailers were soon to follow. IHOP started serving up pumpkin pancakes. Coco’s Bakery Restaurant began baking their "Harvest Pie," a layered creation of traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin mousse, and whipped cream. Portable pumpkin pies returned to McDonalds and pumpkin pie frozen yogurt returned to Yogurtland

Savoring the flavor of fall is just as easy at home. Supermarkets, Trader Joe’s in particular, make it easy for home cooks to experiment with pumpkin. Last year, in a “quest to pumpki-fy” their stores last year, the California grocer rolled out 21 pumpkin products, including Pumpkin-Flavored Dog Treats. And they’re at it again. Stores started displaying their pumpkin products earlier this month.

Starbucks' "Pumpkin Spice Lattes" unofficially signify the start of fall (jeffwilcox / Creative Commons).
Starbucks' "Pumpkin Spice Lattes" unofficially signify the start of fall (jeffwilcox / Creative Commons).
To welcome the advent of pumpkin season, give these gooey pumpkin bars a try. The recipe is compliments of Paula Deen and The Food Network

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes 

For the cake you’ll need:  

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix 

1 egg 

8 tablespoons butter, melted 

And for the Filling:  

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened  

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin 

3 eggs 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

8 tablespoons butter, melted 

1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

1 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Combine ingredients for the cake with an electric mixer and pat into the greased pan. 

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add eggs then vanilla and butter, continuing to mix. Add powdered sugar and spices. Mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The center should be a little gooey, so don’t overbake!

Serve with whipped cream. 

Reach Staff Contributor Lexie Barker here



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