From desserts to pizza to beer, get your fill of pumpkin in Atlanta

For Ashley Summerall of Atlanta, the taste of fall can’t come quick enough. Sure, the assistant manager at the Decatur Piece of Cake location may have three years under her apron, yet she confesses she never tires of the flavors found in Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake dancing on her tongue.

“I love how moist it is,” she said, referring to the local bakery chain’s dessert, which rolls out of their ovens annually. “It reminds me of the wonderful fall weather.”

Countless others share Summerall’s seasonal, culinary fandom. A sure sign of fall can be seen when nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin and other tinges of October often converge to literally spice up everything from craft brews to pizza.

We hit the leaf-laden trail on a hunt for some of the area’s most interesting pumpkin-flavored creations. Our collective tummies may now resemble the swollen fruit — yeah, technically a pumpkin isn’t a veggie — but it was worth it.

Pumpkin and Porcini Pizza

Greg Grant, co-founder and operating partner of Amalfi Pizza in downtown Atlanta, puts a pumpkin twist on the timeless pie. He takes pizza dough and forms a round pizza crust, approximately 12 inches in diameter. Instead of a traditional sauce, Grant uses a near creamy version of sauteed pumpkin. After topping it with provolone, he layers the pizza with sauteed porcini mushrooms and bits of fresh basil. A drizzle of olive oil hits the center of the pie before Grant slides the pizza in the oven. Once the crust looks golden brown, the chef removes the dish from the oven and sprinkles it with grated Parmesan cheese.

Amalfi Pizza, 17 Andrew Young International Blvd. N.E., Atlanta. 404-228-7528, amalfipizzaatl.com.

Puff Pastry Pumpkin Pudding Pie

The popular Leon’s Full Service occupies a former gas station in downtown Decatur. These days, customers pull in to fill their own physical tanks with the restaurant’s brand of foodie specialties. Co-owner Tom Moore points to this dessert making use of pumpkin zing. Pumpkin pudding nestles in the middle of a puff pastry, crispy sage resting on top. The treat sits in a pool of warm salted caramel, walnuts wading in the sauce. Looking for an after-dinner libation in a different locale? Moore, who also co-owns the nearby Brick Store Pub (125 E. Court Square, Decatur), said they keep a handful of pumpkin beers on tap for fall.

Leon's Full Service, 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-687-0500, leonsfullservice.com.

Pumpkin beer

Walk into the Beer Growler, and you might just walk out with a jug full of pumpkin brew. Yet, according to owner Denny Young, pumpkin beer manufacturers weren’t smiling like jack-o’-lanterns two years ago. “I call it the great pumpkin beer crash,” Young said. “Every distributor was left with too much pumpkin beer.” The trend took a hit due to the glut of pumpkin-flavored hops and barley. However, the 2016 fall beer patch returns as the Beer Growler bears bountiful pumpkin brews. Ace Pumpkin Cider joins an array of six pumpkin beers. Southern Tier’s Pumking flows with the taste of pumpkin pie. Its high-octane Rumking, basically Pumking aged in rum barrels, has a whopping 10.7 percent alcohol by volume. Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale occupies its own tap at Beer Growler, too, with heavy nods to caramel and pumpkin. The Beer Growler also has a Brookhaven location (1418 Dresden Drive, Suite 160, Brookhaven).

The Beer Growler, 38A N. Avondale Road, Avondale Estates. 404-228-1463, thebeergrowler.net.

Warm Pumpkin Cake with Fall Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream

Like those changing leaves on the trees, Canoe’s executive pastry chef, Jennifer Paul, has a fall dessert menu in full effect. Diners can find it during both lunch and dinner hours. The cake itself features pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond flour, pumpkin seeds and other ingredients. House-made white chocolate ganache and candied pumpkin seeds seal the deal. Have a bite while gazing upon the turning foliage surrounding the bank of the adjacent Chattahoochee River. “This Warm Pumpkin Cake is the perfect gluten-free fall dessert to enjoy with the pumpkin craze going on this season,” Paul said.

Canoe, 4199 Paces Ferry Road S.E., Atlanta. 770-432-2663, canoeatl.com.

Pumpkin Spice Layer Cake

The cream cheese frosting on this sizable hunk of cake nearly hypnotizes the salivary glands into submission. Pumpkin spice, buttermilk and pumpkin team up with a roster of other ingredients to create a cushy texture and cozy flavor tone. With a total of nine metro locations, from Alpharetta to Kennesaw, Piece of Cake’s delicacies emerge from its Collier Road bakery. Go straight to the source or visit a spot near you.

Piece of Cake, 1299 Collier Road, Atlanta. 404-846-0908, pieceofcakeinc.com.

RECIPE

Smashing Pumpkin Cocktail from 5Church

Prepare the pumpkin puree mixture and bitters in advance.

Pumpkin Puree Recipe

1/8 cup pumpkin puree

3 very ripe persimmons

1 ounce Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Puree all ingredients together in blender, then refrigerate.

Bitters Recipe

4 cinnamon sticks

2 cloves of nutmeg

1/2 cup dark chocolate

Combine all ingredients in container and cover the top with Everclear. Steep for two to three days until the flavors pull out. After the flavors have infused, the original ingredients need to be strained out. Then put it into a bottle with a dropper.

Cocktail Recipe

1/2 ounce Angel’s Envy Whiskey

1/2 ounce Knob Creek Rye Bourbon

1/2 ounce satsuma juice

1/4 ounce lime juice

1/4 ounce triple sec

2 ounces of pre-made pumpkin puree mixture

2 dashes of pre-made bitters

Combine ingredients into a shaker and shake.

5Church, 1197 Peachtree St., Atlanta. 404-400-3669, 5churchatlanta.com.