I have made no bones about how I am intrigued by the persimmons. I love it in pie, in ice cream and as a pickle. I like how the orange fruit can be used in such a large variety of ways. I like the beguiling sweetness that the fruit has without losing its depth. And I have grown to like the requirement for patience in waiting for ripeness before breaking open the persimmons. It seems as if, based on the prices I have seen lately, others have picked up on persimmons as well.
When I made it through Mitsuwa the weekend after Thanksgiving, I saw persimmons at a remarkably low price and picked some up. Weeks later, they were ripe and I had time to think about what I wanted to do with them. My girls had a doughnut at Nightwood that was delicious and was stuffed with essentially pumpkin pie Boston creme. That is basically pudding, right? Well, in my mind it WAS pudding and it sparked an idea of persimmon pudding.
Once I had pureed the persimmons, I noticed the water content was very, very high – think of salsa from a good taqueria. I knew the water would mess with the texture, so I reduced it the stove top. This dulled the bright orange color, but brought the rich sweetness and kept the orange blossom flavors as well. I reduced a little over three cups to almost exactly one cup.
Once the puree has reduced, I used a relatively common pudding ratio. After whisking cornstarch with sugar, molasses, and whole milk, I tempered eggs, then added them back, finally adding the persimmons and some baking spices. After pouring the mixture into cups and letting them set, they were ready to try.
You would think with all of the “high-low” restaurant concepts that pudding would catch on in the same fashion as some of the other childhood favorite sweets have. It carries flavors extremely well, is a bit lighter than ice cream, and has more temperature flexibility. This pudding was a little creamier than the Pumpkin Pie Boston Creme at Nightwood, but it was delicious – spicy, complex, fruity and smooth. The key was removing liquid from the mixture. Once the flavors were concentrated, the flavors only needed a little tweaking to get to a really great place.
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs
1 cup reduced persimmon puree
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 star anise, ground
Step one: Combine milk, sugar, molasses and cornstarch in a saucepan. Whisk while heating over high heat until boiling.
Step two: Crack eggs into and whisk. Add a cup of the boiling milk mixture and whisk to keep from curdling. Add back to milk mixture whisking. Cook until thickened.
Step three: Add remaining ingredients and whisk to ensure smoothness. Pour into cups, cover with cling-wrap, and chill overnight.