Featured, Kitchen, People

Pie Spice, The Flavor of Fall

November 20, 2019

Gracefully extracting the warming tones of a tropical mango for our Thanksgiving table

If you haven’t worked in marketing, you may not be able to empathize with how pressurized it can become – to have to constantly churn out new, creative (and IMO hopefully) useful content. In the food business that means new recipe ideas and techniques to simplify them. In produce that means tips on storage, handling, and usage, as well as flavor profiles, textures, and a fruit or a vegetable’s unique quirks. If you’re like me and want content to be genuine, it’s even more difficult. Mango-infused Thanksgiving ideas are not easy to come by, but I think we managed to pull it off. 

We at Crespo Organic Kitchen are well-known for our multi-faceted work with mangos. We work on the commodity side as well as the kitchen side, producing useful content that resonates with our many fans and eaters from around the globe. Ideas often start out as complex, but as professionals we must turn them into easily executable concepts that any skill level can tackle.

This year like many before, I let a weird idea unravel. It was sparked by one of last year’s recipes Pumpkin and Mango Spiced Cake. I had thought about all the people eating mangoes regularly throughout the world and about how Pierre Thiam made his original pumpkin mango cake for a Thanksgiving here in the USA. In his cake, he used ingredients and flavors from Africa, melding them together with Thanksgiving tones and spices. Next, my mind drifted to the all-pervasive “pie spice” which seems to appear everywhere the instant summer starts to fade (I’m looking at you, Starbucks). Since many of our recipes already use mango puree, I thought that making a series of holiday recipes that sprang from one special pumpkin pie spiced mango puree recipe would be genius… Meet the Fall Mango Puree.

One of the many things I have learned while cooking with mangoes is that they are extremely complex in flavor (aren’t we all J) and amazingly versatile. While most of us think “tropical,” mangoes also have bright, perfumy, honey-sweet and even slightly spicy tones, depending on the varietal and ripeness. I learned that each of these notes can be coaxed out further using simple flavoring techniques used by chefs every day to pull out flavors. Cooking with fruits is, for the most part, still new territory throughout the world, and as we fuse more recipes, cultures, and techniques together, we get less cookie cutter results and more deliciousness.

The natural sugars in mangoes caramelize when cooked, something I discovered when I made mango caramel a few years back. So cooking the mango purees, which I hadn’t done for a recipe outside the caramel, led to a richer and deeper flavor profile, representing more fall tones by adding the maple, ginger, and pie spice. This puree truly presents endless opportunities to cook with or even toss into your morning smoothie, oatmeal, or baby food. It was just invented over here in the Crespo Organic Kitchen, so it’s only a matter of time before more and more ideas are born.

Crespo Mango Pumpkin Pie Spice

What started out as the medley of spices added to a pumpkin pie has now become synonymous with pumpkin pie flavor, whether there is pumpkin in the product or not. McCormick was the first spice companies to bottle it, back in the 1950’s. Once it made its way into the cabinets of home cooks, it ended up in everything around fall and Thanksgiving. The essence of pie spice is simple. It’s a cinnamon-forward blend of spices that includes cinnamon (surprise!), ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Like many others, I have strayed slightly from the original. Whether you use this blend or a store-bought version doesn’t matter. The recipes will all turn out tasty, and you’ll be jonesing for Thanksgiving. Toasting whole spices and then grinding them is an option I personally love. It leads to deeper, more robust, and slightly smokier flavors.

Makes about ½ cup of spice mix


3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground all spice
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground mace


Mix together the spices in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 months.

Fall Mango Puree

So much about fall starts out with “pie spice” and all of this year’s Thanksgiving recipes start out with a pie spiced mango puree flavored further with ginger and maple. This warm and creamy, slightly cooked puree is perfect for fall cakes, pies, drinks, and even glazed meats. The trick to making the mango puree is to know your desired thickness for the recipe – thick, thin or regular. The juiciness or ripeness of the mango matters, so you have to use some judgment when making purees. An average organic round mango sold at the grocery store will yield about 1 ½ cups of chopped fruit, but sizing and variety can differ and change the yield, so be sure to measure when a recipe calls for one mango.

Makes 2 ½ cups of puree


2 cups fresh, chopped ripe mango
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fine fresh ginger
1 tablespoon pie spice mix
¼ cup water (or cognac )


Combine the mango, maple, ginger, spices, and water in a blender, and blend until totally smooth, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time until desired consistency.  Place the blended mango mixture on the stove in a medium-sized heavy bottom sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and cool. Refrigerate for later use.

Mango White Chocolate Pumpkin Spiced Latte

To be honest, I have been dreaming up this drink for a while. I had even emailed Ecuator Coffee about it wanting to do a version of this for Summer Mango Mania. I’m glad no one answered  that email because this recipe is the recipe that was meant to be. If you like Starbucks pumpkin spiced lattes, you will love this. It’s rich and decadent without being sugary sweet. You can make it with or without the espresso. I was hesitant about adding espresso but, wow, was it good. Use non-dairy milk and cream for a vegan version.

Makes 2 coffee drinks


1 ½ cups of whole milk
2 tablespoons Fall Mango Puree, plus ½ tablespoon
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons sugar
2 shots of espresso (optional)
Pinch of Crespo Mango Pumpkin Pie Spice


Heat the milk, 2 tablespoons mango puree, and vanilla until hot, just before boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the white chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate melts into the milk. Mix in the salt. Turn the burner to lowest setting and make your whipped cream topping.  Using a whisk or hand-held emulsifier, beat the heaving whipping cream, the sugar, and ½ reserved tablespoon of the puree until soft peaks form.

To assemble the drink, add the espresso to the white chocolate mango mix and stir. Pour it into your coffee cups and top with the whipped cream and a dusting of pie spice on top.


Mango Mezcal Blush Margarita

Mezcal is not for everyone. This margarita can be a great entryway into the spirit; its subtly imparts the best parts of mezcal without being overly robust or diluting the smokiness of the spirit. In the Crespo Organic Kitchen, we are very fond of the Del Maguey Vida brand. Not only is it organic, but it has beautiful vegetal notes. This cocktail is a wonderful option to serve at Thanksgiving. Its unique fall taste will impress your guests. Blood orange is used to keep the tart limes as well as for color, making this a pretty pink-orange hue, kind of like the blush of a ripe mango. The fact that it’s a margarita will keep everyone happy, and the chipotle black salt rim will keep everyone wowed. Serve with Fall Mango Spiced Pumpkin Seeds for nourishment.

Makes 1 drink


1 ½ ounces tequila reposado
½ ounce mezcal
1 ½ ounce Fall Mango Puree
Juice of ½ lime (about 1 tablespoon)
Juice of ½ blood orange (about 2 tablespoons)
Chipotle Black Salt*


Combine the tequila, mezcal, mango puree, lime, and blood orange juice in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for about 45 seconds. Pour the mixture over ice into a chipotle salted rocks glass.

*Chipotle Black Salt: Mix together ½ tablespoon dried mora chipotle chilies (chopped fine), 1 tablespoon Maldon salt, 1 tablespoon black volcanic salt, and ¼ teaspoon Crespo Mango Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Mango Mezcal Blush (Pull Out the Good China) 

This is a fancier version of the Maple-Mango Mezcal Margarita. It utilizes egg whites for a creamy froth and is strained in a fancy glass. This drink is what you pull out along with the good china. Use a milk frother to pre-froth your egg whites a trick that will up your cocktail game and impress whoever is attending your holiday soiree.

Makes 2 drinks


1 egg white
Pinch of pie spice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces tequila reposado
1 ounce mezcal
1 ½ ounce Fall Mango Puree
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Juice of ½ lime ( about 1 tablespoon)
Juice of 1 blood orange
Salt and Pepper Bitters


Using a milk frother, pre-froth the egg white in the bottom of shaker with the sugar until its thick and frothy. Add ice to the shaker, followed by the tequila, mezcal, mango puree, vanilla, and citrus juices. Shake vigorously for about 1 minute. Strain into two chilled coup glasses and garnish with a dusting of pie spice on top of the egg white and a few drops of salt and pepper bitters.

Fall Mango Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Think of these spiced seeds as a flavor filled snack to nibble on while you sip your thanksgiving cocktails.

Makes 1 cup of seeds


1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon Fall Mango Puree
4 fresh cranberries, minced
1 teaspoon chopped superfine dried chipotle pepper
1 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Toss pumpkin seeds with all the ingredients, and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and toasted. Let cool.

Fall Maple & Mango Pie Spice Scones

These butter-centric, ultra-rich tasting scones are easy to whip up. They taste eerily like pumpkin scones, but utilize the Fall Mango Puree, spiced with pie spices, maple, and ginger.  They are delicious for breakfast, brunch, or on any cold fall day. They keep the excitement going the morning after Thanksgiving.

Makes 8-10 scones


2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
1 egg
½ cup Fall mango puree
¼ teaspoon maple extract, plus another ¼ teaspoon for the icing
1 stick (½ cup) salted butter, grated and frozen, plus 1 tablespoon melted for the glaze
½ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple extract
1 tablespoon Fall Mango Puree
¼ teaspoon maple extract
Black Pepper Hazelnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, pie spice, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller sized mixing bowl, whisk together the cream, eggs, mango puree, and ¼ teaspoon maple extract until smooth and creamy. Gently stir the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Add the cream mixture into the flour butter mixture, and mix only until a dough begins to form. You want the mixture to be a little crumbly. Turn the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and form a roundish circle about 6-8 inches and about 1 inch high. Cut the circle into 6-8 wedges (depending on what size you want) and then gently glide them out of the circle a little so they all have plenty of room to bake. You want to give them space but not touch or move them too much. Brush them with a little heavy cream and then place in the oven to bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, remaining ¼ teaspoon of maple extract, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and the 1 tablespoon of Fall Mango Puree. Mix until smooth.  Drizzle glaze on the cooled scones, and let stand for about 20 minutes before serving. This gives the glaze a little time to set.

Black Pepper Hazelnuts

I am not one of those people that does Sunday meal prep and has a lot of stuff on hand. My freezer is empty and outside a few sauces I like to make and my herbal salts, I do most cooking off the cuff. These nuts I do have on hand often, when I make a batch I usually double the recipe and keep them in a sealed container for a few months. They are easy to make and their sweet-pepper nature makes them great for desserts, salads, or snacking.

Makes about a cup of nuts


1 tablespoon butter
¾ cup hazelnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 pinch of salt


Melt the butter in a small, heavy bottom sauté pan on medium heat. Add the nuts, gently stirring and coating with the melting butter. Add the sugar, cracked black pepper. and salt, and continue to stir well as the sugar melts and begins to coat the walnuts with a sticky caramel. Cook for a total of 3 minutes and then immediately take off the heat. Place the nuts on a piece of parchment paper or clean cutting board to cool completely.


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