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. When they were finally ripe (it took a few weeks), I found a grocery store recipe for persimmon cookies. The problem was that the cookies were missing that special something; they were too plain on their own. So, I improvised with a glaze that uses some of the persimmon pulp for color and orange zest for added tang. The result was terrific. The orange glaze complements and accents the persimmon and cinnamon of the cookies.
Persimmons come in two varieties – Fuyu and Hachiya – with very different properties. Fuyu persimmons are short and squat, looking a little like tomatoes; they are meant to be peeled, sliced, and eaten like apples. Hachiya (those pictured are unripe Hachiya) are larger than the Fuyu and somewhat acorn shaped. They need to ripen completely. 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. One makes baked goods like these persimmon cookies with the pulp from Hachiya persimmons.
Persimmon Cookies Recipe
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup very ripe Hachiya persimmon puree*
- 2 3/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 Tbsp persimmon puree
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
*Cut off the top of a very ripe hachiya persimmon (should be completely soft to the touch) and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp. Discard any seeds that might be there. Each persimmon should yield anywhere from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of pulp.
1 Cream butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Add persimmon puree, stirring until blended.
2 Stir together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to persimmon mixture a third at a time, stirring just until flour is incorporated. Stir in nuts.
3 Lay out plastic wrap on a large smooth surface. Place the cookie dough on the plastic wrap and form into a long cylindrical log, wrapping the dough completely with the plastic wrap. Place in freezer. Chill at least a couple of hours, until frozen or almost frozen.
4 Preheat oven to 375°F. When dough is fairly solid, unwrap from plastic wrap and slice with a sharp knife, 1/4" thick rounds. Lay out cookie dough rounds on stick-free cookie sheets, leaving at least an inch between the cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly touched in center. Let cool on baking racks before frosting.
5 When cookies have cooled, lay out over a sheet of wax paper. Sift confectioner's sugar and then whisk with 2 Tbsp of milk until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp of persimmon puree and 1 tsp of grated orange peel and mix until smooth. Dip spoon into glaze mixture and dribble over cookies. Let harden and serve.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.