I fell in love with persimmons about 25 years ago when I lived in California and found a dripppingly sweet Hachiya hanging on a tree while taking a shortcut to a friend's for Thanksgiving. As soon as I touched it, it fell into my hands. It was so ripe it was almost liquid; it was like holding a handful of warm caramel. I ate the whole thing right there, and it was incredible -- like a new flavor that I hadn't ever experienced. Since then I've moved to New England, and have planted 7 of our native persimmon trees. The fruit is smaller, but maybe even more delicious than that Hachiya.
I've tried a lot of recipes to best show off the beautiful flavor of a ripe persimmon, and my favorite is this steamed persimmon pudding. This recipe is a combination of many, but most closely resembles a recipe from Martha Stewart. Mostly I reduced spices so that the persimmon flavor isn't overwhelmed, and made simplifications where I found it didn't effect the end result. If you've never had a steamed pudding, that is reason enough to make this; warm, rich and almost light (I'm trying to say not dense). I make one every year at Thanksgiving using my own persimmons, which I let ripen until they fall off the tree (see the wrinkled photo), but I also have made it with store bought Hachiyas, and the difference is minor. —Julio Childish
Unsalted butter, room temperature
Flour (all purpose works)
Brandy (I'd go for the bottom shelf)
Currants (dried of course)
Hachiya persimmons. I buy them 2 weeks in advance. Let them get ridiculously ripe.
Baking soda, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons warm water
Pecans (roast at 300 F for 3 min, then cool and chop coarsely)
Use additional butter to grease a 12-cup pudding mold. Fill a large pasta pot fitted with a steamer insert with enough water to come halfway up mold; set aside. Mix all of the flour, spices, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Put brandy, raisins and currants into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer for just a second. Remove from heat; let stand 15 - 30 minutes. Drain; discard liquid. Set raisins and currants aside.
Cut the tops off persimmons. Spoon out flesh, and rub through a sieve into a bowl (you should have 1 1/2 cups persimmon puree). Whisk in milk; set aside.
Combine butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix in persimmon mixture. Mix in baking soda mixture. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in pecans, raisins, currants, and ginger. Pour into prepared mold; cover with buttered lid. I've never had a problem, but I always tie some string around the lid and it's tabs to ensure that it cannot come off when I lift the mold out of the boiling water.
Bring the water in the pasta pot to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Carefully lower mold into steamer. Cover pot, and steam until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 3 to 3 1/2 hours (3 hours was perfect for my mold), checking water level every half hour or so (add boiling water if the level drops to 1/4 of the way up the side of the mold).
Place mold on a wire rack; remove lid. Let cool 20 minutes. Invert mold onto a cake stand or plate, and cut into slices. Serve with brandy whipped cream.
Brandy Whipped Cream
Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Briefly mix in Brandy.