Persimmon trees are often planted as decorative trees; around November, the trees begin to lose their leaves and what remains are bright orange fruit hanging from the trees like Christmas ornaments.
I received some hachiya persimmons from a neighbor’s tree recently with which to make cookies. First they needed to ripen, the process of which we speeded up by placing them in a brown paper bag.
With the ripened hachiya pulp I made these lovely cookies! They’re filled with walnuts and dried sweetened cranberries, and have are a bit cakey. I’ve topped them with a sugar glaze that includes persimmon purée and tangy orange zest.
While wild native persimmons grow throughout the midwestern states, commercial persimmons come in two Japanese varieties—Fuyu and Hachiya—with very different properties.
Fuyu persimmons are short and squat, looking a little like tomatoes; they are usually eaten like apples.
Hachiya (those pictured are unripe Hachiya) are larger than the Fuyu and somewhat acorn shaped. They need to ripen completely before you can eat them. Unripe hachiyas are extremely astringent and will make your mouth pucker if you try to eat them.
When the Hachiya persimmon behaves like a seriously overripe tomato (completely soft to the touch all around) and its insides are a slurry, that’s when they can be opened, and the sweet pulp spooned out and eaten.
You can make baked goods like these persimmon cookies with the pulp from either ripe Hachiya persimmons or very ripe fuyu persimmons.
- 1 cup very ripe persimmon pulp*
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 2 cups (270 g) flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup chopped dried cranberries, raisins, or dates
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbsp orange juice
- 1 Tbsp persimmon puree
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
* If using a hachiya persimmon, it should be very ripe and completely soft to the touch. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Discard any seeds that might be there. Each hachiya persimmon should yield anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pulp.
1 Prepare persimmon pulp: Using a blender, food processor, or mini chopper, purée the ripe persimmon pulp until smooth. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
2 Beat together the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the persimmon purée and orange zest.
3 In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt.
4 Make cookie dough: Add dry ingredients to persimmon mixture a third at a time, stirring just until flour is incorporated. Stir in nuts and dried fruit.
5 Chill dough for 1 hour.
6 Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Drop cookie dough rounds on stick-free cookie sheets, leaving at least an inch between the cookies.
Bake for 13 to 14 minutes or until cookies are browned around the edges and spring back when lightly touched in center. Let cool on baking racks before frosting.
7 Prepare frosting: While the cookies are cooling sift confectioner's sugar and then whisk with 2 Tbsp of orange juice until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp of persimmon puree and 1 teaspoon of orange zest and mix until smooth. Dip spoon into glaze mixture and dribble over cookies. Let harden before serving.