I’m sitting here trying to figure out how I made it 37 years without ever tasting a persimmon. I’m finding it quite unimaginable, and yet, it’s true. I just never had one. They passed me by. Until about a week or so ago in Whole Foods. There they were, sitting in their pretty little basket… a lovely collection of Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons, sweetly looking up at me and sheepishly beaming “buy me! try me!” Perhaps I should have resisted, and kept to my unintentional boycott. Then, at least I could say, “I’ve never even tried a persimmon.” How many people can say that? Well, not me anymore.
I bought the persimmons. I tried the persimmons. I fell in love with the persimmons. I am now a persimmon fan-gal. A regular cheerleader for persimmons. And how could I not? The brilliant orange flesh, the tangy juice, somehow a combination of papaya, peach and mango all blended together into one succulent bite. Absolute ambrosia. Go Team Persimmon!
But I was heading out of town (I’m in NYC now! more on that later), with several ripe persimmons sitting in waiting. I’m only gone for 5 days, but I am sure that they wouldn’t last. I couldn’t bear to let them go to waste, so I decided we needed some persimmon based treats for the plane. Something easy to eat and carry. And then a weird idea came into my head: What about Persimmon Madeleines? They are easy enough to whip up (important, because I was cooking the morning of my evening flight), and the lightness of the spongy cookies seemed a good match to the tropical sweetness of the persimmon.
I went back to Bills Food for a lemon madeleine recipe, and made a few adjustments. It’s a tricky recipe to start with because all the measurements are in grams, and I am never very good at the whole measurement conversion thing, particularly when it comes to weights and volume. 200g of sugar and 200g of flour turn out to be very different in terms of cup sizes. And, since I don’t have a scale, and I couldn’t find any exact conversion formulas, I just had to wing it. In addition, because I was adding persimmon puree instead of lemon zest I knew I’d have to adjust the liquid in the recipe, and the only real thing I could do was add less egg. But whatever I did, seemed to work, because the madeleines turned out beautifully… soft and spongy with just a little crispness to them. The persimmon is very subtle, just a mellow sweetness that is hard to put your finger on, but gives them a little something extra.
A couple other notes on the recipe: be patient. I wasn’t and I rushed adding the butter before it had cooled completely to room temperature. This made the flour clot a bit too much, and I ended up with a fairly uneven batter. Also, the instructions say to let the batter sit for about 5 minutes before spooning into the madeleine mold. Do that. I didn’t, and the first batch turned out full of holes… light and delicious, but less than perfect looking. The second batch I made had a much better consistency.
Makes 20-30 madeleines, depending on mold size
3 Hachiya persimmons, very ripe
3/4 cup caster sugar (or 200g)
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour (or 200g)
1 t baking powder
6 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 400F.
Melt your butter and get it cooling.
Cut the persimmons in half, and scoop out the flesh, discarding the center seed/core and skin. The meat of the fruit should be bright and translucent. Puree in a food processor until smooth.
Beat the eggs and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the persimmon puree and vanilla and mix till well combined.
Sift the flour and baking powder onto the egg mixture, and gently fold in. Then, fold in the melted, cooled butter. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes.
Spoon into your madeleine mold. Don’t overfill them. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending the size of your madeleines. The edges should be a golden brown.
Allow to cool for a few minutes before devouring.
PS: If you know your persimmons you’ll notice that the photo of the persimmon with the madeleines isn’t a Hachiya persimmon. It’s a Fuyu. Because I used all the Hachiyas in the batter. I haven’t tried but they don’t recommend cooking with the Fuyus.