Some seasonal fall treats you can get anywhere in this place we call America. Candy Corn and Candy Pumpkins ship out annually to the nation’s pharmacies, and come mid-September, at any strip mall in this great land you can take your pick from Jamba Juice’s Pumpkin Smash, Dunkin’ Donuts’ pumpkin donut, pumpkin pie donut, pumpkin muffin, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin mocha lattè, and pumpkin crème brulée coffee-adjacent liquid, to say nothing of the grandmother of seasonal pumpkin drinks, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattè. Some things, though, you can only get in Brooklyn. So here, dutifully assembled with a sweet tooth and an iron stomach, are six seasonal pumpkin treats from across the borough.
1. Konditori’s Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Spice Muffin
“Is that a pumpkin spice muffin?” I asked the tall barista with the backwards hat at the Konditori nearest my apartment. “Yeah,” he said, adding with a slight eyeroll, “Well, a gluten-free pumpkin spice muffin,” which was meant either as a joking distinction or a mocking correction, depending on what you expect from baristas at high-end coffee purveyors. With not a speck of gluten inside or out, the Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Muffin was light, fluffy, and moist, like a small orange raincloud. Its pumpkin flavor was not overwhelming, but neither was it underwhelming. The matched set of Pumpkin Spice Cookies were soft, and nearly big enough to be mistaken for muffins. If you’ll only let yourself have one, opt for the muffin. Numerous locations.
2. One Girl Cookies: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
These are delicious, and so adorable. They may be small, but don’t get overambitious—they are incredibly sweet. I got two for my taste-test, strictly for aesthetics (a lone tiny whoopie pie doesn’t make for an inspiring photo shoot), and found it to be a bit too much. The cream filling makes these taste almost more like carrot cake than pumpkin anything, but spice-wise the two aren’t all that far apart. Even so, the filling is light, and doesn’t overwhelm the cake with their flavor. The cake is grade-A whoopie: firm but spongy in the service of finger food. One will likely be enough for most tastes, so if your eyes are bigger than your sweet tooth, gift one to someone sweet. 68 Dean St, Cobble Hill
3. Blue Marble: Pumpkin Ice Cream
Before you can even catch a taste of Blue Marble’s Pumpkin ice cream, the first thing you notice is its lovely color—more like a butternut squash than a pumpkin, really, but bright, like a wintry sherbet. The texture of the pumpkin ice cream is smooth and rich, with a spiced milkiness that recalls the classic of the genre, the Starbucks PSL. The precise flavor lands somewhere at the midpoint between that and pumpkin bread, particularly on the finish, with just a whisper of Starbucks Vanilla Chai. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Nutmeg is the strongest flavor, which gives it a warmth despite its obviously un-warm temperature. With a sugar cone it approaches pumpkin pie, as a “crust” of sorts, but is far crunchier, and anyway it’s best not to compare apples with applesauce. Suggested toppings are walnuts and/or hot fudge, and maple syrup for the fearless. 186 Underhill Ave, Prospect Heights; 196 Court St, Cobble Hill
4. Baked: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf
By far the richest Brooklyn pumpkin treat on offer, and that includes the next one (Junior’s). Each slice is more than an inch thick and saturated almost to capacity with chocolate chips. Its texture is dense and moist without being at all sticky. The chocolate complements the pumpkin well, and the pumpkin itself is so subtle as to be almost background. This, though, is an undersung virtue of the pumpkin treat: Less is way, way more. The spices are subdued and pleasantly blended, with nothing figuring too strongly in the overall mix. There’s hardly a better choice in any neighborhood. 359 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
5. Junior’s: Pumpkin Cheesecake
This is everything you want it to be. It’s even more than everything you want it to be. The flavor is like pumpkin pie, predictably, but is both lighter (in flavor) and richer (in texture), and without all that dry old crust. (No offense to crust-lovers or expert pie-crust bakers.) Junior’s pumpkin cheesecake is an absolute must for the lactose- and pumpkin-tolerant. 386 Flatbush Ave, Downtown Brooklyn
6. La Bagel Delight: Pumpkin Cream Cheese
@_john_sherman can’t think of a better way to go
— Rachel H. Smith (@rachelholliday) October 23, 2014
Follow John Sherman on Twitter @_john_sherman.