Thursday, July 9, 2009
I thought persimmon season was over but spotted a tray of bright, shiny globes lurking in the fruit market a couple of days ago. Of course I couldn’t resist -persimmons are one of my favourite fruit and I actually prefer the dried version, which I used to eat as a child growing up in Malaysia.
Dried (and fresh) persimmon is known as “pisang kaki” in Malay, which translates, literally, as banana foot but I’m not quite sure why. They were a common treat during the Lunar New Year celebrations - dried flat discs covered in white bloom that didn’t look particularly appetising, but tasted divine. Sweet, chewy and jellylike all at the same time - I guess it’s a texture you either love or hate. (Follow this link if you’d like to read more about the drying process.)
I was a little disappointed, however, with my recent fruit market purchase. The season’s peak is definitely past and the fruit I bought wasn’t as sweet as it should be. I wouldn’t normally cook a persimmon, but I decided to see if they would work in a cupcake.
I used the non-astringent persimmon variety. Make sure you know which one you are about to eat (you can tell by the shape) because, when unripe, astringent persimmons can make your mouth feel as if it is turning itself inside out!
(A TWS original recipe)
(The whole recipe makes use of 1 large fresh persimmon)
First make the persimmon puree:
100g roughly chopped persimmon
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp water
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for about 10 minutes or until persimmons are very soft. Do not boil, keep stirring to prevent sticking. Let cool then push through a sieve. This removes the skin as well. You should end up with about ¾ cup jelly-like puree. Set aside.
110 g plain flour
80g caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter (softened at room temp)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
¾ cup (90g) persimmon puree from above
40 g finely diced persimmon (skin on – the skin lets the fruit hold its shape and adds colour and texture)
Preheat oven to 180˚ C. Place flour, sugar and baking powder in mixing bowl. Beat on low speed for a few seconds to mix (I used an electric hand beater). Add butter and half the egg and beat on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to high and beat for about 30 seconds (I wanted the texture to be a little dense, so I didn’t beat it for too long). Add the rest of the egg and beat until incorporated (about 10-20 seconds). Gently fold in the puree, then the chopped persimmon. Don’t worry if the puree is not mixed in completely.
Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 12 minutes or until golden.
Cool, then ice with cream cheese icing and top with persimmon glaze (to follow)
Makes 18 small cupcakes.
Cream cheese icing
30 g icing sugar
30 g butter (softened)
60g cream cheese (softened)
Cream all ingredients together with a wooden spoon, until smooth.
(This quantity makes about ½ cup and is just enough to thinly cover the cupcakes. I did not want to mask the delicate flavour with too much icing)
40g finely diced fresh persimmon
Gently cook the persimmon and sugar in a saucepan until thick and syrupy. Let cool.
Verdict? The persimmon flavour is very delicate which is why I did not add any other flavourings (eg vanilla) because I didn’t want to overwhelm the persimmon. I also layered the flavours by adding the puree, the chopped fruit and the glaze. I have to admit the flavour is very mild – it’s still a tasty cupcake, but I might attempt this again with dried persimmons to see if I can get a stronger flavour.