Some years ago I came across some American persimmons, which are a little hard to find in this part of the country nowadays. I got a little overexcited and bought quite a few of the rare gems, so I had to go searching for recipes. A friend gave me an old recipe from her family for persimmon pie, and I quickly made it.
I appreciated the novelty of it – I’d never even heard of persimmon pie until she gave me the recipe – so I continued to make it with imported Japanese persimmons, which are readily available in the cold of winter here. But at some point, I realized that the original version, loaded with classic pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves really didn’t taste that much like persimmon. In fact, it was pretty close to pumpkin pie. I have tinkered with the basic recipe, reducing the spice to the barest hint of subtle mace and adding a nice dose of complimentary orange that brings out the fruitiness of the persimmons, while highlighting the slightly floral undertones. Now I feel like this is a unique dessert that makes the most of lovely persimmons.
I revisited this recipe recently, because I happened to find some dried persimmon slices in the store, and I couldn’t help but think how pretty they would look as a garnish. A dollop of whipped cream is also a nice touch.
Pastry for one 9-inch pie, homemade or rolled store bought
Zest and juice of one orange
1 large Hachiya persimmon (about 9 ounces)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon mace
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry, then line with parchment paper and fill with baking weights or tried beans. Blind bake the crust for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and gently remove the paper and weights. Leave to cool slightly.
3. Zest the orange into a large mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice into a bowl or measuring cup. Place 2 Tablespoons of the juice in a blender. Cut the stem from the persimmon and cut into pieces and add to the blender. Blend until smooth. You should have one cup of puree. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and lightly beat, then stir in the puree, the cream and the butter until well combined. Add the sugars, vanilla and mace and beat until well combined.
4. Pour the filling into the crust and bake the pie for 50 minutes to an hour until the filling is set and only slightly jiggly in the center.
5. Cool completely, then refrigerate until firm.