Pumpkin pie spice is a spice blend that is commonly used to flavor pumpkin pies, as well as other pumpkin desserts. It is made up of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, and can sometimes include small amounts of other spices like cardamom, mace and allspice. Cinnamon is usually the primary flavor, but the blend of spices is typically well-balanced so that you can taste a little of everything. The spice mix is a flavor that is both easily recognizable and surprisingly misunderstood, since many people seem to think that actual pumpkin is or should be included in order for it to be called “pumpkin pie spice.” This spice combination is so closely tied in to baking with pumpkin that you don’t even need the pumpkin to recognize it as a “pumpkin spice” dessert, and this is what has led to a wide variety of pumpkin spice products – homemade and storebought – springing up during the fall baking season.
The spice mix is warm and flavorful, with a great blend of spicy and sweet elements. While it may seem like “cheating” to some to be able to make a dessert that evokes the flavor of pumpkin pie without using any pumpkin, it actually gives you a tremendous amount of options as a baker, since you’re no longer limited to working with recipes that can accommodate a very moist ingredient (pumpkin puree) and can take the spice blend to other types of baked goods, like my Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies.
You can buy pumpkin pie spice blends at just about any grocery store during the fall, and you can make your own using my recipe if you want to whip up a batch with the spices you already have on hand. Replace the old pumpkin pie spice in your pantry every year to ensure that your pumpkin spice goodies have the best pumpkin spice flavor.