It seems a bit absurd, I know, but until this week, I had never tasted a persimmon. I’ve been curious about them, though. Especially when I discovered my friend, Pat, who grew up in California with a persimmon tree in her yard, orders them by the case each year through the local food co-op.
Persimmons started simmering up in my mind a few weeks ago when I was in the Twin Cities. After reading a recent review at Heavy Table about some interesting food being served for lunch at Hmong Village in St. Paul, I was determined to get over there to explore on my own.
The large building was filled with vendors selling fresh produce, individual nooks offering a variety of this and that, and several vendors offering freshly made, ready to eat Hmong, Thai, Asian and Vietnamese food.
It was in the fresh produce area that I was tempted to grab a bag of ripe persimmons. They were the Fuyu variety — the kind that are shaped like a tomato, but with a burnt orange-colored skin. They can be peeled, sliced and eaten. I decided against purchasing one of those bags that held at least 8 persimmons. I had no idea what I’d do with all of them. But when I got home, I picked up a few Fuyu persimmons at the store.
I had planned to just eat them or maybe add a few slices to my morning smoothie. After leaving the fruit out on my kitchen counter for a few days, the persimmons got nice and soft. I did eat one. Soft and so ripe, it was filled with juice. And then, quite by accident, I came across a recipe for Persimmon Cookies in an old cookbook my mom bought for me in 1989. The recipes in the book were compiled by Home Economics teachers in California.
The recipe for Persimmon Cookies was submitted by Sandra Robertson at Whittier High School in Whittier, California. She commented that her mom made these cookies every year during the holiday season.
I decided to give them a try. It wasn’t until I started measuring out the ingredients that I noticed there were no eggs listed. Seemed strange to me, but I decided I could trust a home ec teacher. Then I realized there were no instructions for oven temperature or baking time. Maybe I shouldn’t trust a home ec teacher.
I made a few simple changes to the recipe. Rather than using the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg that were listed in the recipe, I used some Cake Spice that had just arrived this week in a box of herbs and spices that I ordered with a gift card from the The Spice House. Baking Spice blend or even a blend of Pumpkin Pie spices would work well, too.
The cookies are soft and sweetly spicy. I added chopped dates and broken toasted pecans, but dried cranberries or raisins would be good, too. Before baking the cookies, I used a rubber band to attach a damp cloth to the bottom of a glass. It makes a great non-stick cookie press/stamper when the damp cloth-covered bottom of the glass is dipped into sugar first.
If you can get your hands on persimmons, give these sparkling, egg-less cookies a try. They’re delicious with a cup of tea or hot cocoa.
If you can get your hands on several persimmons, make the cookies and make some persimmon margaritas. Just days after I turned my back on those bags of plump persimmons at Hmong Village, I saw this margarita recipe over at City Pages. Oh, I should have come home from my trip to the Cities with one of those bags of persimmons.
- 1 cup peeled and chopped Fuyu persimmons
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons Cake Spice, Baking Spice or Pumpkin Pie spice blend
- 3/4 cup chopped dates
- 3/4 cup broken toasted pecans
- Sugar for stamping cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly. Use a fork to mash the chopped persimmons, achieving a pulpy consistency. Stir baking soda into the persimmons and set aside.
Blend sugar and shortening. Sift dry ingredients together and add to sugar mixture. Beat on low speed to mix. Blend in persimmon mixture. Stir in dates and nuts. Drop by teaspoonful on prepared cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
Cover the bottom of a glass with a small damp cloth and fasten with a rubber band. Dip the damp towel in sugar and use it to press down each cookie. Dip glass in sugar before stamping each cookie.
Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until bottom of cookies are golden brown. Cool cookies on wire rack. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.
Store in airtight container or tin. These cookies can be frozen.
Tip from the cook
A thin-skin peeler, the kind with serrated blades, is a good tool for peeling persimmons.