Thursday, January 7, 2010

finding common ground

True, persimmons are an acquired taste, often falling into the black or white categories of “I love them” or “I hate them.”

I have to admit, I have been a member of the latter.

Persimmons are native to China and have been around for a long time. There are many varieties of persimmons but the most common is the Hachiya. It is an astringent fruit, shaped like a large, pointy-bottomed tomato. The key to enjoying your persimmon is to wait until it is fully ripe (American persimmons are completely inedible until they are fully ripe) and fully ripe means waiting until it is mushy, bright orange, and jelly-like inside.

These bright orange orbs have been making regular appearances at my local farmer’s market…and I’ve been debating “should I get some?” I have tried them alone, and they didn’t do much for me. I couldn’t get past the “mushy” “gelatinous” consistency. I want to like them; I just decided I needed to figure out how to use them so that I would like them.

So the hunt began, looking at different recipes that use persimmons. You may be surprised by the number of cake, cookie, ice cream, bread, and pie recipes in which use this prized, and usually prolific fruit as a healthy and unique sugar alternative. I found that most of the recipes used them in a puréed form. Once they have turned soft, you can run them through a food mill quite easily.

Not too long ago I heard about a persimmon bread pudding at a favorite local restaurant of mine Ramos House.  I decided that it sounded so darn good it was worth some recipe testing.

The result: a yummy egg bread that was soaked in probably way too much cream, eggs and the persimmon purée, along with a splash of cognac (I couldn’t help myself) and a little lemon zest. To that add some delicious red tart cranberries that I still had in the freezer and then bake until puffed and golden. Finish it off with a little homemade whipped cream or Crème Anglaise.  Perfection!

Then again, if cooking with persimmons isn’t your thing, you can always make the bread pudding without the persimmon purée; just add a little more liquid. You could also throw in some raisins and toasted walnuts as well.


Persimmon and Cranberry Winter Bread Pudding
Serves 6 to 8

1 ½ cups cream (or whole milk)
1 1/2 cups persimmon purée from about 2 lb. very ripe Hachiya persimmons
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splash of cognac (optional)
2 lemons, zest only
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
8 cups cubed (1-inch) challah or soft white Italian bread
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw-optional)
Accompaniment: whipped cream or Crème Anglaise

Whisk together cream or milk, persimmon purée, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, cognac, zest and salt in a large bowl, then stir in bread and let mixture stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Stir cranberries into bread pudding, then spoon pudding into a buttered shallow 8-inch square (2-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish, spreading evenly. Dot with butter bits and turbinado sugar. Bake pudding until golden, puffed, and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool to warm in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes.

Bread pudding can be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Reheat, uncovered, in a preheated 350°F oven until warm.

Note: Persimmon purée keeps, chilled, 3 days (cover surface with plastic wrap, then cover bowl with another layer of plastic wrap) or frozen 1 month in an airtight container.


  1. This recipe looks terrific! I've never thought to cook with persimmons but I think this recipe is worth a try.

  2. give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

  3. Hey Shannon girl, the recipe looks scrumptious!!
    I agree with you that one acquires a taste for persimmons. We didn't have persimmons where I grew up so when I came to this country, I was fascinated with these beauties. Nevertheless, I didn't have the courage to try them until three years ago when my friend promised that I wouldn't regret it if I tried it. She was right. I fell in love with them! It is quite lovely in green salad.....