The sleeper hit of Thanksgiving were these sultry persimmon puddings. Really they were more like persimmon panna cotta’s since they were so slippery, luscious and texturally succulent. Many of my more fortunate friends across the globe are swimming in persimmons right now. I am not. This is a travesty I would like to correct at some point in my life, but I’ve been told there is little hope if I continue to reside in Seattle.
Persimmons, like kumquats this time of year, mostly grace the gardens of my friends in more Southerly climes, much to my chagrin. I am willing to perform a trade, if you are reading this. I can bottle rainwater for you in exchange for a fat sack of bulging persimmon goodness. Ok ok, I am being bad and not at all heeding my locavore credo. Sue me- trading posts existed in ye olde West, I’ll see you a persimmon and raise you a pine nut, you crazy tribal beeyotch!
The spoon sex that happens when you put persimmon pudding to your lips can’t possibly happen with any other food- even the ones that begin with the letter P. Did you know that the most lascivious foods are brought to us by the letter P? Just ask Sesame Street. Pomegranates, pea shoots, pears, prosciutto, and pie- still wanna argue? So it’s only natural that persimmon pudding, with its double whammy alliteration, ups the ante on the P-style fun bags, and here’s why.
You may not think about it directly, but every time you take a bite there are quite a few factors at play. First, there is smell. Then temperature. Next invariably is texture. These all contribute to a greater factor we know as taste. Some of us are more in tune than others to various tastes, textures, smells, and temperatures. There is, of course, the age-old crunchy versus creamy debate. Personally I like things that deliberately challenge the palate to think outside the tongue, and this dessert does that, albeit in a very unassuming way.
I am fortunate to be able to cook these little love cups sous vide, however a water bath in a low oven would probably work fine too. In terms of ingredients, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. While I do, on occasion write down ingredient lists for things I invent, more often than not I toss in a little bit of this, taste, then toss in a little bit of that, taste, and wrap it up in a whole lotta love. The things that turn out best tend to be the ones I’m dying to make, the ones that have a little planning, but a lot of passion behind them.
They are the creations I put other things on hold for- yes, the parsnip puree needed to be completed and I wasn’t even planning to bring these puddings to actual Thanksgiving dinner, and yet I set everything aside to pursue a notion of the heart. I recorded some basic measurements, but that will never be enough to replicate a recipe. The touch of superior taste comes from the indiscernible added fervor that gives an edge to the highest level of precision. To cook is to love food. To understand food. To use chemistry and science for the greater good of providing pleasure. These persimmon puddings are the ultimate example of the collision between food, love and science.
15 minutes active time, 1.5 hours inactive
- 4 pureed Fuyu Persimmons
- 1 egg
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ c cream
- ½ c whole milk
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- 1 c sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp freshly-grated ginger
- ¼ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
- Pinch kosher salt
- Heat a waterbath to 180° (alternatively, you can place a cake pan with an inch of water in a low temperature oven and cook these using bain marie method). Pass the persimmon puree through a mesh strainer in order to remove the sinewy bits.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 8 individual portion ramekins and cover each tightly with cling film.
- Place the ramekins in the sous vide water bath or in the bain marie. If you are cooking en sous vide, cook until just set and cling film has bubbled up taut, like in the photo. This takes approximately 1.5 hours, but you can always test by removing a ramekin and jiggling it a little to see if it’s firm. (For bain marie-style, do the same, but likely it will take much less time, perhaps a half hour.)
- Once the puddings are set, invert them onto a serving platter. I serve mine with a generous helping of whipped cream.