It’s that time of year again: Pumpkin season has arrived. But it’s not just coffee shops that are warming the air with sweet smells of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Citywide, bakeries, restaurants, and other neighborhood spots are putting pumpkin spice into action, along with actual pureed pumpkin, which can enhance all sorts of treats.
“We love baking with pumpkin not just for its seasonal flavor, but also because its consistency lends itself so well to creating a perfectly moist cake,” says owner Meagan Benz of Crust Vegan Bakery, where pumpkin is used in everything from scones to bread pudding to coffee cake.
Beyond baked treats, you’ll find pumpkin (and cinnamon) adding creaminess and color to frozen desserts like ice cream, slushies, and ice pops, perfect for stepping into fall while making the best of those last lingering summer-like days.
Here’s where to find pumpkin treats across Philly.
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Pumpkin Ice Pops: $3.75 for pumpkin latte ice pop, $5 for pumpkin s’mores ice pop
West Philly’s Lil Pop Shop is turning pumpkin spice lattes into ice pops by blending Vietnamese coffee with local cream, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. There’s a pumpkin s’mores ice pop option, too, which combines a decadent dark-chocolate-coated pop with a creamy pumpkin base and chunks of housemade marshmallows. It’s finished with graham cracker crumbs.
More of an ice cream fan? Lil Pop Shop’s recent partnership with Weckerly’s brings additional creamy options to the shop. Starting mid-October, find Weckerly’s sandwiches ($5) with ice cream made with Lancaster County heirloom pumpkins. It’s smashed between honey cinnamon cookies, along with a layer of coffee ice cream and caramel. Lil Pop Shop’s pumpkin pops are available throughout the season on Weckerly’s menu at its Fishtown outpost, too.
Spiced Pumpkin Sonhos and Cake Rolls: $5 per sohno, $6 per cake roll slice
Brazilian pop-up Kouklet is selling the pumpkin spice dream with a sonho (a popular Brazilian sweet similar to a cream-filled beignet) stuffed with salted pumpkin custard and topped with crunchy pumpkin seed brittle. Kouklet gives all of its sonho varieties a sourdough twist, and offers new seasonal flavors every month. “The traditional filling is a vanilla condensed milk custard, but I love pumpkin spice so I take any excuse I have to use it,” says Kouklet founder and pastry chef Mardhory Cepeda.
This month’s Kouklet cake roll special is pumpkin spice, too. It features vanilla cake rolled with warming spices and white chocolate ganache. Find the cake rolls and sonhos at farmers markets where Kouklet pops up on weekends. (See the schedule here.) The sonhos are also available at Di Bruno Brothers and Herman’s Coffee on weekends and for daily pickup or delivery.
Vegan Pumpkin Hand Tarts and Coffee Cake: $3-$6
Manayunk’s Crust Vegan Bakery is going full-on pumpkin with treats ranging from maple-buttercream-topped pumpkin cake to pumpkin swirl cheesecake to pumpkin maple hand tarts. While items on the all-vegan menu rotate often, the pumpkin bread and pumpkin pecan coffee cake are autumn staples at the bakeshop, and popular ones, too. “After taking the coffee cake off the menu one year, we had a customer ask how much it would cost to buy it by the dozen once a month so she could have it in the freezer,” says Benz. Filled with pumpkin puree and topped with brown sugar pecan streusel, the moist, spicy cake is available by the slice. Specialty items like the hand tarts, Benz’s favorite, make it into the display case at least once a week.
Pumpkin Ice Cream Treats: $6.25-$54
Every fall, Franklin Ice Cream rolls out a fleet of pumpkin dessert options, including pumpkin ice cream made with Bauman’s pumpkin butter, pumpkin ice cream sandwiches with German lebkuchen cookies, and a giant pumpkin-shaped ice cream cake that’s filled with caramel, salted pecans, gingerbread, and, of course, pumpkin ice cream. There’s also the pumpkin “Boo Bar,” a ghost-shaped ice cream bar dipped in white chocolate. All items are available at The Franklin Fountain and Franklin Ice Cream Bar next door. Cakes must be preordered pickup at The Franklin Fountain.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake: $10 per slice, $50-$65 for a cake
Bloomsday’s resident cake-baker, Davina Soondrum, owner of Hey Sugar!, says she can easily do without pumpkin spice lattes, but she does love a good pumpkin cake. This year she’s creating a four-layer, eight-inch-tall version that’s loaded with pumpkin and mini chocolate chips, along with a Turkish coffee and caramel buttercream frosting. “It’s a really good compromise, even for people who are anti-pumpkin spice,” says Soondrum. “It’s not something that tastes fake. It’s not overly sweet. But pumpkin is definitely the star of the show.” Thanks to a hefty amount of pumpkin in the batter, the cake is extra moist and a touch lighter than a normal layer cake. Enjoy it after dinner or post-brunch at Bloomsday through October. You can also order a whole cake by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cardamom Doughnuts: $3 each, $17 for half-dozen, $30 for dozen
At South Philadelphia’s Okie Dokie Donuts, find pumpkin-spice doughnuts, topped with a cardamom glaze and toasted cardamom-and-sugar-tossed pumpkin seeds. Though you likely won’t notice, the cake-style doughnuts are gluten-free and vegan. “Our flour mix is a light blend of potato starch, rice flour, and tapioca starch, and there’s plenty of pumpkin puree, which stands in for the egg,” says owner Carol Ha.
Roasted Pumpkin and Date Challah Danishes: $5
An Israeli-spiced pumpkin filling is the centerpiece of K’Far’s newest seasonal challah danish. At the center of the flaky, buttery pastry is roasted pumpkin sweetened with date paste and dark brown sugar that’s then spiced with baharat, a Middle Eastern spice blend filled with cinnamon, clove, and allspice. A citrusy orange glaze tops it off, along with a crunchy dukkah made with candied pecans and coriander. Take note, K’Far’s danishes sell out every weekend, according to pastry chef Katreena Kanney. To make sure you get one, preorder online.
Pumpkin Pie Blended Drink: $5
Yes, you’ll find pumpkin-spiced lattes at this Pennsport coffee shop (featuring freshly grated nutmeg and sweetened condensed milk or coconut milk for an extra decadent touch). But there’s another, less familiar option, too, and it’s every bit as sweet and pumpkin-spiced. Order a pumpkin pie blended frozen drink made from cold brew, oat milk, and a house-made pumpkin syrup that includes real pumpkin, plus cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Find it swirling round and round in the cafe’s frozen drink machine. It will rotate with a frozen cider option.
Vegan and Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies: $14 per slice
Vegan and gluten-free, P.S. and Co.’s pumpkin cheesecake brownies feature a black bean brownie base, topped with cheesecake that’s swirled with organic pumpkin spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger. But the squares don’t lack richness or appeal. “These sell out so quickly, we rarely have time to post them on social media. This year, we’re going to open up a limited preorder system for mid-October,” says owner Andrea Kyan. Look out for limited batches in-store starting Oct. 16.