OK, so it’s been a while. Four months, in fact, since the last Sprout Diaries post. You may have noticed that the blog’s done some growing up since last we met. With its fancy new face lift and as the proud owner of its own domain name (good riddance, “dot wordpress”!), the blog is ready to get back to business after a too-long hiatus. I suppose I’ve done some growing up, too, in the interim, but I’m not here to regale you with tales of my glamorous grad student life, although I’m sure you’d find my phonology essay and syntax final exam fascinating. No sir, we have much more pressing matters to attend to. Namely, these miraculous little cookies.
But before diving in, let’s talk persimmons.
If you’re not familiar, persimmons are those tomato-like fruits that show up around late fall in oft-neglected corners of the produce aisle, pulsing with a pinky-orange glow and rewarding those who seek them out with their signature tangy, squishy sweetness. The persimmon is traditionally grown in East Asia, and is considered the national fruit of Japan. The most common variety is Hachiya, but be warned: this type is astringent and should only be eaten when very, very ripe, unless you like the sensation of your mouth drying up like a cotton ball. However, the other common variety, Fuyu, is sweet to eat even when firm to the touch.
Before you start thinking that the persimmon is about as exotic as a kimono and just as unlikely to be sighted here in the States, you should know that there is a third variety of the fruit — the Diospyros virginiana — that grows rampant round southern Indiana and, in those parts, is a common fixture of autumn farmer’s markets. In fact, it was at a bonafide southern Indiana farmer’s market where I picked up my own tub of persimmon pulp. It seems that for Hoosiers, persimmons (and the consequent batch of persimmon pudding) is as much a staple of fall as a crisp red apple or a slice of pumpkin pie.
Wherever you live, I encourage you to track down some persimmon pulp of your own. Not only is the fruit rich in Vitamin A and high in fiber, most importantly it plays a starring role in these delectable persimmon cookies. I came across this cookie in a gorgeous cookbook called Bountiful, and I’ve mostly stayed true to their original, genius recipe, other than throwing in some white chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth. They’re like the chocolate chip cookie’s edgy cousin — mysterious and adventurous on the outside, but with that wholesome Midwestern charm at heart.
Adapted from Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh persimmon pulp
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Makes about 30 small cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F, and line a pan with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix persimmon pulp with baking soda. Add to the butter and sugar mixture, and stir to combine.
In another bowl (I know, it’s a lot of bowls…), sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring gently.
Stir in cranberries, nuts, and white chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Drop small spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared sheet. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
I brought in these cookies to share with professors and classmates on the last day of the semester, and they disappeared in minutes. The texture — fluffy and chewy, like the best kind of cake — was especially pleasing, and the combined flavors of white chocolate, tart cranberry, pecan and persimmon intrigued and delighted. So if you’re looking for a treat to stand out among the usual suspects this holiday season (I’m looking at you, sugar cookies and peanut butter blossoms), give this recipe a try.