Persimmon Cookies

November 13, 2012

in Cook What You Like, Cookies and Confections

There’s a little mystery around autumn-ripening persimmons. Is it a fruit that people really don’t how to prepare and eat? Or maybe somewhere along the way, too many of us have tried to eat an astringent persimmon that wasn’t ripe enough yet except we didn’t know that – bleck!

There are two cultivars of persimmons: one is the astringent variety such as the Hichiya (which might have been the tannic culprit) and is used mainly for baking and drying; and the other is the non-astringent variety including the Fuyu which can be eaten raw ( hard or soft) or cooked in savory dishes where the persimmon pieces retains their shapes.

Mom’s pillowy cookies were made from Hichiya persimmons (on right in photo below). She’d line up the large heart-shaped fruits on the kitchen counter with their bottom points sticking up. When the ripe fruit yielded to a gentle press, Mom peeled back the thin skin revealing the glistening orange pulp as a bowl below caught the dripping juices. When enjoying Hichiya persimmons, either baking with them or eating out of hand over the sink (like the juiciest of fresh-picked summer tomatoes), the fruit should be soft and ripe; otherwise they’re unpleasantly astringent – bleck again!

The increasingly popular Fuyu persimmon varietal is flatter and can be eaten when hard or slightly soft, like an apple or pear, skin and all (pictured on left and center in photo above). Fuyu’s are also delicious sliced into leafy green salads – add a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and lace the salad with a honey-sweetened vinaigrette. The result is a delightful play of flavors and colors.

For this persimmon cookie recipe, use the plump and juicy Hichiya. Don’t be put off by the seemingly long ingredients list for it’s a little of this and some of that that brings out the spices in this old-fashion cookie. And use the freshest nuts you have as they share the spotlight in these gems.

If you have a persimmon tree, you know that the fruit tends to ripen all at once. Remember what you did with your overabundance of summer zukes? You know, how you placed filled bags on your neighbors front porches and then quietly slipped away? This also works for persimmons. And you might get some persimmon cookies in return!

Recipe: Persimmon Cookies

Summary: Soft cakey-chewy cookies made with persimmon purée

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup persimmon pulp (2-3 soft Hichiya persimmons)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • finely grated zest from 1/2 of a lemon (optional)
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Toast the nuts in a medium sauté pan on medium high heat stirring often. Remove from heat and coarsely chop when cool.
  2. With a bowl beneath your hands, gently peel the persimmons. Remove seeds if any. Purée the pulp in a small food processor only for a couple of pulses leaving little pieces. Measure 1 cup of persimmon purée and pour into a small bowl; set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine and mix well together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  4. In a medium-large mixing bowl, with a hand mixer, cream together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter until fluffy. Mix in baking soda to the measured persimmon, mix in the beaten egg and lemon zest, and add to the creamed butter-sugar mixture. Mix well with the hand mixer.
  5. Mix in flour mixture and when almost incorporated, add raisins and chopped nuts.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with a silicone liner or parchment, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake until cookie bottoms are golden brown and cookie tops yield slightly when depressed, about 8-10 minutes. If baking more than one sheet at a time, halfway through baking rotate the cookie sheets – top to bottom and front to back.
  7. When done, remove cookies from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer with a wide spatula to cooling racks.

Store in an airtight container separating layers with wax paper. Makes 30-40 cookies.

Note: if desired, top the cookies with a thin icing. Sift powdered sugar into a small bowl and squeeze in lemon juice to thin. A little juice goes a long way. Place on wire racks to dry before storing.

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