Sparkling and Spicy-Sweet Persimmon Cookies

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.

Persimmon Cookies

  • 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.

10 thoughts on “Sparkling and Spicy-Sweet Persimmon Cookies

  1. Pingback: Wassail and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  2. I discovered persimmons 2 years ago at a Farmers Market in the state of Washington……….I bought a bag full and ate them all………..Oh my gosh I fell in love with my “new found fruit” !!!!…………When I returned to Alexandria, I “dreamed about persimmons”………..I went to the local grocery store and they had a few persimmons… I bought one (1)………..the variety the local grocer sold was Hachiya……this variety contains an astringent called tannin which makes your mouth and lips pucker…………so I checked for Fuju persimmons on the internet and found an organic farm in Fallbrook, California called McManigle Grove…………I ordered 20# of persimmons (at a fair price plus free shipping)…….they arrived at my house within 2 days………I ate persimmons morning, noon and night……I shared them with friends and family… grandkids LOVED them!………..I ordered 20 more pounds……..this was my “new found fruit” and it definitely was a “persimmon Christmas”…….we ate most of the persimmons fresh, but I did make a couple batches of persimmon bread which was very good……..I froze a few bags and I will be using them this Christmas season. I looked up persimmons on the internet and I learned a lot about my “new found” fruit …..lots of interesting facts about where most of them are grown and used…………if you have the chance to eat a Fuju persimmon, I hope your experience will be as great as mine was………Merry Christmas………Another fruit I discovered that same year while visiting Washington, was the quince (most people use this fruit for decoration)……….I brought a couple home and made quince jam…………..served on a water cracker, with goat cheese and a dab of quince jam…… was so yummy…………..Enjoy the Blessed Christmas Season. ~Peace N Love~ Jeanie

    • Thanks for sharing all the great information about persimmons, Jeanie. I can’t believe you went through 40 pounds of persimmons. That’s amazing. Sounds like you’ve started a new tradition in your family. Persimmons for Christmas. I discovered quince when I was in Hungary a few years ago but haven’t had one since then. Your quince jam served on a water cracker with goat cheese sounds divine. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your persimmon experience. Enjoy the holiday season!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing the cookie recipe. Baked persimmon pudding with fresh whipped cream is a traditional holiday favorite that my mother-in-law has passed down in my family. It is made with persimmon pulp which we purchase at local fruit markets. The pulp can be frozen and thawed so it is available when fresh persimmons are out of season. It never occured to me to make cookies or bread but I will certainly give it a try now.

    • Baked persimmon pudding with whipped cream sounds wonderful. I’ve never seen persimmon pulp in the stores around here, maybe because I’ve never looked for it. I’m going to check on that. Thanks for visiting, Betty!

  4. The Fuyu persimmons have a more solid fruit much like an apple, so how do you get “pulp” to make these cookies, or could you just grate them into the batter, will I have enough liquid????

  5. I’ve never seen persimmon pulp in the market, but we have a persimmon tree in our yard that has finally grown large enough to provide an ample harvest of persimmons for birds, squirrels, and us. For those who live in a persimmon-friendly climate, this is a beautiful tree, both ornamental and useful. The crop of persimmons ripens in the fall when the leaves are beginning to fall off of the tree. Once the leaves are gone, the lovely structure of slender branches, loaded with bright red-orange fruit (ours is Hachiya) is revealed. For us, this usually happens around late November and early December.

    I have learned to pick the persimmons while still hard and let them soften on the windowsill (sometimes all available surfaces are needed – bookshelves, entertainment center,…). Otherwise, the birds would leave none for us. Hachiyas do have the puckery astringent, but only if not quite ripe. They are ready to eat out of hand when they are almost too soft to pick up. The color by this time is redder, and the very thin outer skin becomes translucent and can be gently peeled away from the flesh if you wish. You won’t experience the pucker factor if you wait until this stage of ripeness. This is not a fruit to cut into pieces – better to scoop with a spoon. It is VERY sweet. It’s wonderful on toast like jam, or mixed into plain yogurt.

    My holiday tradition is to make persimmon pudding. Many years ago I discovered a recipe in The Crunchy, Juicy Cookbook, published by Rodale Press (1977). At the time, we were living in Hemet and had two small persimmon trees in our yard. They bore fruit for the first time and I had to quickly learn what to do with it. That recipe is the only one I have used, and it is always a hit. It uses butter and eggs, but no sugar. A couple of years ago, when our present persimmon tree began producing more fruit than I had room for in the freezer and I needed to bring a lot of cookies to a church function, I decided to try persimmon cookies, They, too, were a hit, and I was happy to have more than one way to use the fruit. Hachiyas are so easy to cook with – you can squeeze them out of their skins into a measuring cup, or if you have frozen them whole, you can chop the frozen fruit into small pieces and have some nice, colorful fruity chunks in your recipe. Please don’t be put off by the unripe pucker – Hachiyas are wonderful fruit! I hope you’ll give them a try.

    Your cookie recipe looks very good – I look forward to trying it. And I love the damp-cloth-on-a-glass-with-sugar tip. I definitely will use that!

    • Such an interesting story, Gretchen. Thank you for sharing. And enjoy those persimmons, ripe, mushy and sweet! How lucky you are.

  6. I just popped this recipe in the oven, My Nana used to make them and this dough tastes just like them!!! She couldn’t keep out of them as a kid and I miss her. Thanks for the recipe and the memories! :)

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