Make Ahead

Persimmon Chiffon Pie with a Gingersnap Crust

January  9, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

There are two main types of persimmons available in the United States: one is firm when ripe, and the other is soft. Fuyu persimmons, which are round and squat like a tomato, are the most common variety of firm-ripe, or "non-astringent" persimmon found in this country; these are typically sliced and eaten raw. Hachiya persimmons, a popular soft-ripe (or "astringent") variety, are longer and more pointed, and they're ready to eat when the flesh of the fruit softens to the consistency of jelly. It is this second type that you should look for when a recipe calls for "persimmon pulp," which is essentially just a fancy term for the soft flesh of an astringent persimmon after it has been scooped from its skin.

Persimmon is mild in flavor, and quite sweet. Personally, I think the fruit does its best work as a mellow foil for other dominant flavors -- whether it be the tartness of a vinaigrette or the warm, sweet spices of my aunt's famous Persimmon Chiffon Pie. I first had this pie several years ago, when my entire family spent Thanksgiving at her house in Indiana. The pie was a thing of beauty, a delicate pale peach mass floating atop a crisp, brown crust. I had never tasted a persimmon before -- at least, not that I could remember -- so of course I was curious. The pie was both ethereal and rich. It was lightly sweet from the persimmon and got a spicy kick from the gingersnap crust. It is one of the better, and more unusual, Thanksgiving pies I have ever had.

Here is the recipe, which originally came from a cookbook called "Old-Fashioned Persimmon Recipes" first published by Bear Wallow Books in 1978. Try it if you're feeling adventurous -- I promise you won't be disappointed. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • For the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups fine gingersnap crumbs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • For the filling
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups persimmon pulp
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for whipping
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan or plate. Mix together all of the ingredients for the crust using a fork, or pulse briefly in a food processor. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan, using your fingers or the flat bottom of a drinking glass to press it over the base and about 1/2 an inch up the sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Cool the pan on a rack while you prepare the filling.
  2. Soften the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar, and whisk until light and thick, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the persimmon pulp, milk, salt and spices and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thick.
  3. Remove the persimmon mixture from the heat and add the softened gelatin, stirring gently until dissolved. Transfer to a clean bowl and refrigerate until the mixture begins to thicken. Using a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the gelatin mixture, and then gently fold in the egg whites. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angela.Godby
  • AntoniaJames
  • NakedBeet
  • ChefJune
  • gabrielaskitchen

8 Reviews

EmmyLoop April 5, 2022
I will always make this pie at least once a year for the holidays, though I brag about it all year long. Works with any crust. Fresh persimmon pulp keeps beautifully frozen. In fact it turns a lovely deep amber hue.
Merrill S. April 5, 2022
Thanks for the kind words, Emmy -- so glad you're enjoying this recipe!
Angela.Godby December 8, 2014
With a persimmon tree in our front yard, I was looking for a new recipe to use them in. I made this today and found it to be overwhelmingly sweet for my taste. I did however add a bit of sugar to the whipping cream, but don't think that is what overdid it. With the persimmons as sweet as they are, I would probably use half the recommended sugar. The filling never fully set as I had hoped and I didn't seem to taste much of the persimmon pulp. The crust was enjoyable and better than a store bought crust.
AntoniaJames October 23, 2014
Merrill, how many (by weight or volume) gingersnaps does one need to get 1.5 cups of fine crumbs? Thank you. ;o)
NakedBeet November 15, 2012
This looks incredible! I'm seriously considering this for our Thanksgiving this year.
ChefJune August 22, 2011
well now! I am certainly glad I clicked on that foodpickle about the pie crust. A link to this recipe was in the thread! I've not seen this before, but I am truly wowed, Ms. Merrill! Saving this and printing it out to "do" this autumn when persimmons are at their loveliest.

Merrill S. August 22, 2011
You're welcome! I can't take much credit, as the original recipe is not mine, but it is delicious.
gabrielaskitchen January 13, 2010
This recipe sounds great, it makes me yearn for sunny Southern California where I spent my undergraduate days picking ripe persimmons off of campus trees. The gingersnap crust is a beautiful idea for other varieties of fruit pie!