Caldron Favorites

By Diana Rosen


Brewing a ghastly favorite

You don't have to be a warlock or witch to scare up some great beverages for Halloween or other fall celebrations. Either of these could calm the nerves of any ghost-fearing guest...or you!

Vegan Pumpkin Chai

Lots of folks are dining vegetarian or vegan these days, and this pumpkin chai is perfect because it doesn't contain any animal products yet it is full of flavor. Even carnivores love it. This is a tea-less beverage. If you want to add tea, use a black Assam or Ceylon and add during the last five minutes of boiling the spices. Although it's quite spicy, it's suitable for sharing with children.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (about 1 inch chunk) peeled, grated/finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon pieces from 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons loose leaf black tea, optional
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (grade B is fine)
  • 3 cups coconut milk

Directions

  • In a medium-size saucepan, add water and bring to a boil.
  • Peel ginger and grate.
  • Combine cinnamon pieces, fennel seed, cloves and peppercorns in a small bowl then add the spices, plus the grated ginger, to the boiling water.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 25-30 minutes.
  • At the 25-minute mark, add the tea leaves.
  • Into a blender, add pumpkin puree, maple syrup and coconut milk. Pulse or puree to blend.
  • Strain spice tea water into the blender slowly and pulse on low to avoid splattering.
  • Pour contents of the blender back into the saucepan and heat over low heat to desired temperature.
  • Strain once more before serving for smoothest consistency.
  • Serve hot.
Yields 4-6 servings.

This recipe easily doubles or triples and can be made the day before Halloween. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator (large canning jars are great for this). To serve, pour into a saucepan, stir to completely incorporate all the ingredients, reheat and serve. Do not allow to boil.

Pumpkin Lat-tea

Nothing says fall like flavorful hot beverages and pumpkin tea drinks, sometimes called pumpkin lattes, and they are fantastic. The recipe variations are as endless as chai recipes. This is definitely a recipe that's flexible and fun to experiment with different choices from the spice cabinet. We suggest this as a delicious and unexpected treat for the parents or guardians escorting young trick-or-treaters ringing your doorbell. Get a supply of heavyweight paper cups (the smaller the better, you want to stretch this recipe as far as it can go). And, don't forget about treating you and your family; opening that door and greeting guests is hard work, so make extra.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup PLUS 4 tablespoons of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, it's too sweet)
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger or a pinch of grated ginger root for a little zing
  • 4 cups of milk (whole milk is best, but you can use 1 or 2%. If you really want a rich and creamy pumpkin chai, use condensed or evaporated milk. Nondairy choices like almond, rice or soy milk also work well.)
  • 8 teaspoons of loose leaf tea or 8 teabags. Black Ceylon, Assam or a breakfast blend would be perfect.

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, bring all the ingredients, except for the tea, to a boil over medium heat.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the tea bags or loose tea, and let steep for 3 minutes, or longer to taste.
  • Remove the tea bags or sieve out the leaves, as necessary.
  • Pour into waiting cups and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon or more nutmeg and serve immediately.
Yields 16 two-ounce servings or 4 eight-ounce servings.