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Milk Bar pumpkin spice cake
Photograph: Courtesy Milk Bar/Megan Madden

Embrace your inner basic with these pumpkin spice treats across L.A.

’Tis the season.

By
Stephanie Breijo
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Search your feelings, you know it to be true: Pumpkin spice season is finally here, and it is good.

Here in L.A. we might not get the changing leaves and extremely brisk weather our neighbors to the north and the east enjoy, but we do get autumnal desserts, doughnuts and lattes—especially when it comes to pumpkin spice flavor. That “basic” blend of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and occasionally allspice makes its way into pumpkin treats from some of the city’s best and most renowned pastry chefs and confectioners every year for limited-time items that even the most anti-pumpkin–spice crusaders can probably get behind. This year, here are just a few of L.A.’s top pumpkin spice desserts to taste your way through—big comfy fall sweater not included. 

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Spiced pumpkin bread with cranberry compote at All Day Baby

Thessa Diadem whips up some of L.A.’s best and most creative pastries in her role as pastry chef at Silver Lake’s All Day Baby (and formerly at sibling spot Here’s Looking at You), so it’s no surprise that her take on the fall classic is one of the most original we’ve seen this year so far. It starts with a slab of spiced pumpkin bread, which then gets a smear of cranberry cream cheese and then a dollop of house cranberry compote for a pumpkin-and-cranberry blend in every bite.

Compartés pumpkin chocolate bar
Photograph: Courtesy Compartés

Spiced pumpkin chocolate bar at Compartés

Pumpkin spice meets chocolate at Compartés—one of L.A.’s best chocolatiers—with a limited-edition bar for fall. Beloved for its bars encased in vibrant, patterned sleeves, Compartés take an autumnal turn with this on-brand special: The bar itself blends pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and white chocolate together for a flavor combo that “will have you pouring out that drab old latte,” while the wrapping is all black and gold. You can buy them online now.

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Vegan pumpkin maple loaf and more at Just What I Kneaded

The pastry case in Frogtown’s new all-vegan bakery changes daily, but owner Justine Hernandez has been keeping pumpkin in steady rotation now that it’s fall. Stop by on the early end to get your first pick of the pastries, which can include pumpkin maple loaf, gluten-free pumpkin coffee cake, and other autumnal-inspired treats such as apple cider doughnuts—and they’re all plant-based. Still craving a pumpkin spice latte? Yeah, they’ve got those, too. 

McConnell’s pumpkin ice cream
Photograph: Courtesy McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

Pumpkin ice cream at McConnell’s

Never ones to skimp on the process, the team at McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams is going all out with their seasonal pumpkin option. It starts by roasting pumpkin, then blending it together with molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and allspice for full-on pumpkin-pie flavor, then folds this mixture into the company’s signature ice cream that’s made using milk and from grass-fed cows raised in California’s Central Coast. Find the limited-run flavor in both scoop shops and local grocery stores on October 2. Can’t find a McConnell’s near you? You can order it shipped online starting on that date, too.

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Pumpkin dulce de leche cake and truffles at Milk Bar

Christina Tosi’s world-famous layer cakes always come in a rainbow of flavors, but when it comes to fall, pumpkin dulce de leche reigns supreme. The seasonal treat stacks cinnamon cake, pumpkin frosting, dulche de leche, crunchy milk crumbs and salted-and-toasted pepitas for a stacked taste of fall, and if you’re looking for a bite-size version, you can also find the limited-run treat in Milk Bar’s signature truffle form. The cakes and truffles can already be ordered online, and launch in-store on September 30. 

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Pumpkin spice latte doughnut at Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts

Even an action star and grindhouse icon can get in touch with his inner basic-ness. Actor Danny Trejo’s Hollywood doughnut shop is whipping up a few sugary autumnal flavors, not to mention pumpkin spice lattes, and it’s going all-in with one fried treat that even combines them. You can now drop by Trejo’s Coffee & Donuts for a pumpkin spice latte doughnut, which coats a pumpkin cake doughnut in cinnamon sugar glaze and a drizzle of espresso frosting, and you can also snag vegan apple spice doughnuts topped with caramelized apple; allspice doughnuts featuring a cinnamon cream cheese glaze; and a new horchata doughnut that’s glazed with horchata and stuffed with cinnamon pastry cream. Thirsty? In addition to a pumpkin spice latte, you can find a new peanut butter latte and a new hot vanilla concoction.

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Pumpkin petits fours and more at Valerie Confections and Valerie Echo Park

When in doubt, leave it to Valerie Gordon. The baker, confectioner and TV personality makes some of the finest cakes, petits fours and chocolates in the city, and this time of year her online and IRL shops become a haven for fall-lovers. For bite-size fun, look to the pumpkin petits fours, which layer spiced pumpkin cake and cream cheese ganache before getting hand-dipped in white chocolate, then topped with gold and orange sugar. Gordon and her team are also making vegan pumpkin chocolate loaf, as well as pumpkin seed toffee, and you can find the goods online or at her Echo Park café now.

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