Over the past few years, rampant overexposure has made it so both listicles and pumpkin spice-flavored foods suffer a pretty bad rep.
Truth be told, neither one is intrinsically bad. Done right and in small doses, they can actually be quite rewarding. Here — in the form of a list of seven awesome Philly dishes and drinks that just happen to be pumpkin flavored — is proof:
Pumpkin Chocolates from John & Kira’s
Locally made, hand-painted, adorable enough to melt the stony heart of any wicked witch, and pretty damn delicious, too. The dark chocolate shell cracks open to ooze a silky slick of caramel that’s been spiked with fall spices. Order online here or look for the box in local cafes and farmers markets (nine pieces for $29.95).
Pumpkin Churro Donuts at Sweetbox
Recipe for taste success: take spiced pumpkin purée, whip it with buttermilk, bake it into donuts, brush with melted butter, then roll in a mix of brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. That’s what sweets whiz Gretchen Fantini made happen at her lil’ bakeshop in Midtown Village. If you take the donuts home and dip them into hot chocolate sauce, true churro-style, so much the better ($3 ea. or two for $5; available Fri-Sat only).
Pumpkin Ice Cream at Bassetts
No matter what the weather’s like outside, ice cream is always good. Even more the case when you’re talking the real-deal, no artificial anything made by the creamery that’s been based in Reading Terminal Market for more than 120 years. Real gourds go into the mix for this specialty flavor, along with cinnamon and nutmeg. Find it at RTM or in retail stores around the region ($3.99 and up).
Pumpkin Shake at HipCityVeg
Vegans don’t have to miss out on the ice cream tip, thanks to the new seasonal drink at Nicole Marquis’ plant-based quick-serve spots. Spiced pumpkin purée is blended with soy milk and soy ice cream for a light, refreshing shake — like most things here, it’s good enough that even devoted carnivores will want to seek it out, too ($5.65).
Pumpkin Batch Saison from Sam Adams
Wait! Before you run the other way with an “I hate pumpkin beer” scowl across your grill, it’s worth giving this new label from Boston Beer a try. Belgian yeast and real pumpkin in the mash combine for a spicy saison base — it absorbs the added cinnamon and nutmeg to create a flavor that’s both pleasing and unique. Use this beer finder map to find it in bottles and on tap at various shops around town ($4 and up).
NB: If, on the other hand, you love pumpkin beer, there are plenty more to seek out. On the local front, start with Troegs Master of Pumpkins, Dogfish Head Punkin, PBC Kenz O’Lantern, Manayunk Yunkin’ Punkin’, 2nd Story Pumpkin Porter, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin, Fegley’s Devious Imperial Pumpkin and Iron Hill Pumpkin Ale.
Pumpkin French Toast at One Shot Coffee
For when you’re feeling shy about eating actual pie for breakfast. At this NoLibs cafe, batter-dipped French bread is griddled and covered with maple syrup, crumbles of granola and dollops of both pumpkin purée and sweet whipped pumpkin cream cheese ($9).
Pumpkin Sriracha Wings at Iron Hill
It’s tempting to dismiss this dish as nothing but a craven pander — “Hey, these ingredients are trending really well!” — but if you think about it, the flavor combo actually makes logical sense. The concept is proven when you bite into the chicken and hints of sweet, cinnamon-y pumpkin fade into a fantastic pepper burn. That perfect blue cheese sauce is just added bonus (10 for $12.95 or 20 for $21.95).