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Persimmon Pudding

image-88Do you remember seeing persimmons for the very first time?  I do.  I thought they were a cross between a tomato and a pumpkin, and because of the little brownish specks in the fruit, I thought cinnamon was built right into them. With their sprinkles of cinnamon and pretty star centers, I often goofed around and called them per-cinnamons.

25 years later, I call them by their proper name and I know much more about them than just their appearance.

Interestingly, like the tomato, persimmons are technically berries.  They contain vitamin C and vitamin A beta-carotene.  They also have more dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese than an apple. Even better, persimmons contain phytochemicals and compounds such as catechin, gallocathechin (natural phenols and antioxidants), and betulinic acid, which is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity. Armed with so much goodness, persimmons are considered a super fruit!

They taste like a cross between an apricot and a peach, and in baked goods, you won’t taste a distinguishable persimmon flavor; all that you will notice is that persimmons lend their sweetness and moisture.  In vegan baking, persimmons act as a great stable binder and would be a good substitute for eggs or oil.  I made this observation this week, when I baked with persimmons for the very first time.

I am so thankful and fortunate to always have a kitchen overflowing with fruit.  This is, in large part, due to my in-laws continuously stocking my trunk to the brim with a bounty of fruit from their “farm”.  Since it’s the end of pomegranate and persimmon season, my in-laws packed my car up with boxes of sour pomegranates and fuyu persimmons.  My mother-in-law pointed out that one box contained very ripe persimmons and that I needed to use them right away, before they spoil.  Sure, I could’ve made jam, but we don’t eat toast in our household so it would have gone to waste.


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Besides using very ripe persimmons to dress my salads, I wasn’t sure what to make with them. Since they were super ripe, I had to figure it out in a hurry.  For inspiration, I went to Instagram and asked my followers what they would make with a box of almost over-ripened persimmon.  I received many suggestions for persimmon cookies (which I will try making next), persimmon pie, persimmon smoothies, persimmon muffins and bread, and one caught my eye– persimmon pudding!

My former boss, the very talented Breanne Varela (now Contreras), suggested persimmon pudding.  At first, I thought she meant ‘pudding’ as in chocolate or vanilla pudding that you eat with a spoon or Nilla wafer, then I googled it and realized that it’s actually a bread-type pudding, and I love bread puddings, so I thought ”oh yeahhh. Persimmon pudding it is!!”

After reading through many recipes and having a few test-runs, I came up with my own version of persimmon pudding.  The pudding itself is almost custard-like, and the outer part of the pudding is glazed with an ooey gooey coating.  It’s perfect for the holidays as it contains those familiar holiday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  It’s also festive because I threw some brandy into the mix!  Best of all, it’s gluten-free and vegan!  If you don’t make my vegan and gluten-free pumpkin pie for the holidays, this is a great alternative or it’s wonderful in addition to pumpkin pie!

Originally, the recipe was multiplied by 2, but because I like cleaner slices, I halved the recipe and used a loaf pan.  If you plan on taking this to a big family feast, I recommend making 2 loaves of persimmon pudding!

Best served warm with a dollup of hard sauce, I hope you and your loved ones enjoy this special dessert!

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Persimmon pudding

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Water Mixture:

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 tbsp coconut palm nectar or molasses

4 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup boiling water

 

Batter Mixture:

1 cup oat flour (gluten-free) or heaping one cup of rolled oats (pulverized in the blender)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut sugar

5 1/2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce

1/2 cup persimmon pulp (from ripe persimmons, almost over-ripe to the touch, peeled and seeded)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)

2 tbsp brandy, optional (or dark rum)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp chia seeds

1/2 cup almond milk (or coconut or any other nut milk)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup golden raisins

 

Hard Sauce:

3/4 cup cashews (soaked for at least 3 hours or overnight in filtered water)

1/4 to 1/2 cup filtered water

2 tbsp coconut nectar

1 tbsp brandy, optional (alternatively, use dark rum or vanilla)

 

Directions

Persimmon Pudding:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

2. In a small mis en place bowl, combine the chia seeds and the apple sauce. Mix and set aside.

3. Spray loaf pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Combine all the water mixture ingredients in the loaf pan, adding the boiling water last.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, then place the loaf pan in the center of a half sheet pan and into the oven.  Leave the loaf pan in the oven while preparing the batter. The coconut oil will melt and the liquid will start to bubble.

4. Prepare the batter.  In a high powered blender (you can even use just a normal standard blender), if you don’t have oat flour, add your dried oatmeal and pulverize.  Add all the batter ingredients, including the applesauce and chia seed mixture, and EXCEPT for the walnuts and raisins into the blender.  Blend until combined, taking breaks to scrape the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter mixture into a large bowl and fold in the walnuts and raisins.

5. Open the oven and carefully pull out the oven rack where the sheet and loaf pans are sitting.  Carefully, pour the batter, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, into the water mixture. DO NOT MIX the water mixture and the batter, just carefully spread the batter so that it’s leveled and in each of the corners.  While it bakes, the batter will soak up some of the liquid.  It will also sort of steam the bread pudding and form an ooey gooey glaze.

 

This is what it looks like when it's taken out of the oven. You will notice that I didn't move the batter to the top and bottom left corners, so there was no bread in those corners.  Make sure you move the batter carefully into the corners!

This is what persimmon pudding looks like when taken out of the oven. You will notice that I didn’t move the batter to the top and bottom left corners, so there was no bread in those corners. Make sure you move the batter carefully into the corners!

6. Bake for 1 hour. Let it cool and set for at least one to two hours.  Don’t be alarmed..it will shrink.  Cut slices and scoop out slices with a spatula.  Serve warm and with either a scoop of ice “cream” or the hard sauce. Enjoy!

 

Hard Sauce:

1. Soak cashews in filtered water for at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and place the cashews in the blender.

2. To the blender, add the brandy, coconut palm nectar and about 1/4 cup of filtered water.  Blend well until it starts to look creamy.  Scrapes down the sides with a silicon spatula.  Adjust the consistency of the cream (it should be pourable), with a little water, about a tablespoon at a time.  If it gets too runny, adjust by adding a few more cashews. Sweeten to taste. Adjust brandy to taste.

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