By: Emane Haque & Megan Leung
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional pumpkin spice latte, but after a while, its overly sweet and its disappointingly-mild pumpkin taste is bound to old. However, there’s more to the pumpkin-spice life than just lattes. There are many nearby small businesses that offer atypical pumpkin-based foods you can enjoy as the fall season progresses. Here are some pumpkin treats that we tried out in an attempt to jump into the autumn spirit—no pumpkin spice lattes included.
Pumpkin Spice Cupcake 4 out of 5 stars
House of Cupcakes: $2.75
34 Witherspoon St, Princeton, NJ 08542
After feeling underwhelmed last winter when trying the House of Cupcakes’ mediocre hot chocolate, we were excited by the prospect of reviewing what the cupcakery is known for—comforting cupcakes!
Offered seasonally, the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake is a picturesque mini-dessert comprised of a light-brown sponge, a perfect swirl of luxurious cream cheese frosting, a dusting of warming cinnamon, and a garnish of a single candy corn. The icing is thick and rich in flavor, but was a bit too sweet for our liking. Fortunately, despite the lively sugary punch, the frosting did not overpower the vibrant pumpkin spice flavor of the cake. We were even able to see the speckles of autumnal spices within the sponge which served as a testament to the fresh, authentic flavor.
House of Cupcakes is an award-winning establishment for a reason—their cupcakes have an unrivaled light and fluffy texture as well as an uncanny ability to highlight flavors, all of which rang true in their seasonal special. Though it was more of a spice cake than a pumpkin one, the Pumpkin Spice Cupcake is a great indulgence for any cupcake fans looking for a taste of fall.
Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream 5 out of 5 stars
The Bent Spoon: $5.00
35 Palmer Square W, Princeton, NJ 08542
A staple spot for both Princeton natives and visitors, The Bent Spoon is a dessert business that crafts delectable ice creams, sorbets, hot chocolate, and gelatos using locally sourced ingredients. Every year, around the beginning of October, The Bent Spoon reintroduces their pumpkin ice cream to their case of homemade and uniquely-flavored cold treats. This year, the Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream featured an incredibly fresh and authentic pumpkin taste. The mixture of fall spices and caramel-colored speckles were visible throughout the slightly orange-tinted, cream-colored base. The ice cream’s flavors gracefully danced the line between not having enough pumpkin character and having too rich and heavy of a taste. When we closed our eyes, we were immediately transported to Thanksgiving dinner, eating a mouthful of pumpkin pie and vanilla bean ice cream.
As the perfect embodiment of fall, the Roasted Pumpkin ice cream stole the top spot as our favorite local pumpkin treat, a must-try for any lovers of the famous gourd.
Pumpkin Donut 4.5 out of 5 stars
LiLLiPiES Bakery: $2.00
301 N Harrison St, Princeton, NJ 08540
For anyone who appreciates locally sourced ingredients and delicious baked goods, we suggest LiLLiPiES, which offers both. The store’s fruit comes from several local farms including Terhune Orchards and Cherry Grove Farm. With a periodically changing menu and fresh pies, muffins, breads, and other sweets that are made from scratch in small batches throughout the day, it came as no surprise to us that the small bakery was packed on a Sunday morning.
Rather than trying the pumpkin pie, we opted for the pumpkin donut. As soon as we got the dessert, wafts of earthy cinnamon and fragrant nutmeg pleased our senses. Appearance wise, the donut was a bright but natural orange hue, slightly more radiant than that of a pumpkin bread. The donut did not have the traditionally fried donut texture—it was more like a soft mini bundt cake that melted into a creamy pumpkin paste in your mouth. Although the baked good itself was small in size, the decadence and moistness made for a rich, flavorful, and filling treat. We could taste the fresh pumpkin and spices in every last bite. Even though it didn’t end up being our favorite pumpkin treat of the bunch, we would still scarf down several donuts given the chance.
20 Layer Pumpkin Spice Crepe Cake
Jammin’ Crepes: $6.00 2 out of 5 stars
20 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ 08542
When we learned that Jammin’ Crepes, a Princeton hotspot that serves mouth-watering, sweet and savory crepes, offers a seasonal 20 layer pumpkin spice crepe cake, we had to try it.
At first sight––with layers of light orange cream in between thin, homemade crepes, and topped with dark chocolate, sugar sprinkles and frosting––the cake looked promising. Unfortunately, appearances can be deceiving. Upon first bite, the cake oddly tasted like cold Lays barbecue chips. Hard to cut through and eat, the crepe cake’s texture was similar to a half-baked, doughy pumpkin pie. Unless we specifically want to eat an ice cream cake, we expect our cake to be warm or at least room temperature, but this cake was cold and tasted like it had been in the fridge for a few days. The chocolate icing was frozen and separated from the rest of the layers. The combination of chocolate and pumpkin didn’t mesh well as the chocolate completely overpowered the pumpkin flavor.
Overall, the cake was far from enjoyable and it certainly did not embody the warm, cozy, fall feelings we expected. If you go to Jammin’ Crepes, stick to their delicious made-to-order crepes.