When I spotted the first persimmons of the season this past week, I almost broke out in laughter thinking about my childhood memories associated with them. Not all good, believe me.
Although I grew up surrounded by persimmon trees (we call them kakiak or caquis in Spanish), this was not a fruit we ate or knew how to cook with. Instead, the over ripe fruit would always end up smashed on the ground making a jam-like pathway on our way to school everyday.
My school was right next to a convent were the priests had their own vegetable garden and tons of fruit trees; persimmons amongst them. The trees were lined up right next to the sidewalk so when autumn came, boys loved climbing up and getting the hardest persimmons to use as shooting devices against us girls. I remember having many, many persimmon-impact bruises on the back of my legs. Thank goodness I can look back and smile.
If you have never had a persimmon, you must know that there are two types, which have different characteristics. The Hachiya persimmon is the variety I grew up with and unless they are very ripe, they are almost inedible when raw. They have an oval shape and are mainly used to make jams and cook with. The Fuyu persimmons on the other hand, are flat like a tomato and can be eaten raw like any other fruit. Some have large seeds inside, but some don’t.
I was surprised to find that everyone of my friends that walked into our kitchen this week asked, “what are those?”. I was surprised of how unknown they seem to be to some. I suppose their childhood memories don’t include persimmon fights.
Growing up, I don’t ever remember my mom baking any extravagant desserts, mainly because we grew up in the family pastry shop and we had abundant leftover brioche and pastries everyday. But I do remember her lemon, yogurt and olive oil cake that called for one yogurt container of this, three yogurt containers of that… So I took that idea and adapted it to include almond flour, muscovado and the traditional yogurt and olive oil. This makes such a moist cake and can be made alone or with basically any fruit.
The cool temperatures have also arrived in South Florida and at night I have been craving creamy desserts like these mascarpone and marsala sabayon verrines with pistachio and almond crumble and poached persimmons. I thought I lost my sweet tooth during the first months of this pregnancy, but I believe it is back and these did the trick.
Persimmon Upside Down Yogurt and Olive Oil Cakes
Makes about a dozen 3″ cakes
2-3 Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
1 Tbs butter
2 Tbs sugar
275 grams flour
30 grams almond flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
7 grams baking powder
pinch of salt
200 grams sugar
40 grams muscovado
Zest of 1 lemon
250 grams plain yogurt
225 grams light olive oil
2 persimmons, small dice
Squeeze lemon juice
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and sugar together. Add the sliced persimmons and cook until softened about 3-4 min on each side. Place them on the bottom of the cake pans and let cool. Proceed with cake batter.
Cut the two other persimmons and toss them in lemon juice.
In a large bowl, combine flour, almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugar, muscovado, lemon zest, yogurt and olive oil. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold in the diced persimmons.
Pour batter over the caramelized persimmons (make sure these are cool). Bake at 350F for about 15-20 min until golden brown and when knife is inserted, it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before unmolding.
Poached Persimmon, Mascarpone and Marsala Sabayon and Pistachio Crumble Verrines
Makes 4-6 large verrines
400 grams water
200 grams sugar
4 Fuyu persimmons, medium dice
Make a sugar syrup with the water and sugar by bringing them to a boil. Slowly poach the diced persimmons in the syrup until softened, about 10 minutes. Note that the persimmons might still keep “a bite” and not become completely soft if they are not very ripe.
Mascarpone and Marsala Sabayon
3 egg yolks
50 grams sugar
25 grams marsala
110 grams mascarpone
70 grams heavy cream, soft peaks
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and marsala together in a medium bowl. Place this over a double boiler and cook until it thickens while constantly whisking. Make sure the water in the water bath is simmering not boiling.
When the sabayon thickens, remove from heat and whisk in the mascarpone cream. Cover with plastic wrap and let it cool in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Then fold in the soft peak heavy cream.
To assemble the verrines, layer pistachio crumble, poached persimmons and the sabayon.