Persimmon Pudding - an Autumn Delight
Sweet bright orange persimmons are the key ingredient in this gorgeous English style "pudding" which has an aroma that sings of Autumn in Asia. The pudding is slow cooked until the edges turn to chewy caramel. This dessert is perfect for Thanksgiving if you don't have time to make a pie. Easy to make and easy to clean up, it is delightful with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
The first time I ate this pudding I was in Greenwich Village in Manhattan at the house of a friend of my mother's, who was... I am at a loss for words! Interesting? Exotic? She had things from all over the world at her house, and her style was... eccentric? So was her cooking.
Have you ever heard of persimmon pudding? That was our dessert when we visited our mother's friend on Thanksgiving, and it had a flavor that was so enchanting I never forgot it. I asked her for the recipe right away, and stashed it in a cookbook I was creating at the time. The recipe migrated into my permanent cookbook by the time I was in high school, and has been by my side ever since.
When I tell my family I am making persimmon pudding for dinner, their eyes light up. My husband races out for vanilla ice cream, and my daughters make sure the small plates and dessert spoons are ready on the table. If you have never tried persimmon pudding before, you are in for a great treat.
If you want the recipe, it is down below. If you want to read about persimmons, keep going.
When the persimmon season comes to China, the orange season is just beginning. Oranges in Jiangsu Province, where we first lived when we came to China 25 years ago, are green at the beginning of the season. Not that they aren't tasty. They are good to eat when they are green, so we did. At that same time the persimmons are such a deep orange color that you would swear that they were the most orange oranges you have ever seen.
This recipe is my favorite way to eat persimmons, but it can only happen when fresh persimmons are in the market, which is in the autumn. For the rest of the year you can find persimmons in China that have been dried and look like they have been sprinkled with flour. It isn't flour, actually, but a natural process that happens as it dries. Dried persimmons are very tasty, and if you get the chance to eat one, you should definitely try it.
In Xi'an, where the terra cotta warriors live, they have a wonderful version that has persimmons fried in a pastry, and I know many students from overseas who got hooked on those delicious pastries. It is definitely a Xi'an specialty, so make sure you eat one if you go in the fall season.
What is good about persimmons? In Chinese traditional medicine, it has the character of regulating qi, and is good for people with gastrointestinal inflammations and canker sores. I simply like its gorgeous flavor.
If you only have the smaller persimmons available, you can still use them in this pudding. Just make sure you get sweet persimmons, and not partially-ripe astringent ones that make your mouth pucker. If they seem a bit hard, you can ripen them in your windowsill.
Photo by Elyn MacInnis, and yes, it was incredibly delicious.
- 2 -3 very ripe persimmons (= 1 cup pulp)
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- This recipe is SO easy.
- Blend all the liquid ingredients plus the brown sugar and salt in a blender or use a stick blender.
- Stir in the flour and baking powder, and cinnamon.
- Put in a buttered baking dish. A round cake pan will do.
- Bake 45 minutes - 1 hour at 325 degrees F. It should cook for quite a long time until the edges are caramelized.
- This pudding is definitely best served warm.
Do you like Downton Abbey? Mrs. Patmore liked puddings too, and this cookbook a recipe for Christmas pudding named after her!
Grandma Mary knows EVERYTHING about cooking persimmons!