I thought I knew persimmons: heart-shaped hachiyas need to ripen until gooey, whereas squat fuyus can be eaten like crisp apples.
Not always so.
When a friend brought me a bag bulging with oblong persimmons from his grandmother’s tree last week, I asserted, “Those are hachiyas.”
“No they’re not, they’re fuyus.”
“I know my persimmons,” I replied, “and these are indubitably hachiyas, the squishy kind.”
“No they’re not,” he insisted. “They all came from the same tree, and they’re the crunchy kind: fuyus.”
To prove his point, he handed me a slice of one. I braced myself for the astringent flesh to make my mouth feel as though I’d just licked a sheep.
But he was right; it was a dyed-in-the-wool fuyu, crisp and sweet.
“Crap,” I said, peering into the bag. “What am I gonna do with all these persimmons?”
(Disclaimer: most of the normal-looking fuyus in these photos came from our co-op, pre-persimmon inheritance, but you can see the freakish, heart-shaped fuyus in the photos of the cut up persimmons. Oh, and I took most of these pictures the day after I had baked the crisp, for lighting reasons, so the crisp will be gooier the day it’s baked.)
So, I gave away a dozen. Several got diced atop Cook’s Illustrated’s awesome steel cut oatmeal, flavored with cinnamon, cream and maple syrup, and eaten for breakfasts. A few got sliced, plated, and drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and goat cheese for a savory-sweet snack.
And five went into this luscious crisp.
I love munching a good fuyu persimmon, but the low-acid fruit can be too sweet and one-dimensional for baking with. Thanks to FoodBlogSearch, I was inspired by Dinners and Dreams to pair the sweet fruits with astringent cranberries for depth of flavor, and I added further zip with minced, candied ginger, and lemon zest and juice.
My favorite tender, crispy topping covered the fruity base, and I took a cue from the Three Babes and sprinkled a bit of flaky salt and coarse sugar over the top. The result is an absolutely delectable dessert that one friend described, with much eye closing and mmmm-ing, as “like apple pie a là mode, only better,” and “a warm hug for my tongue.”
The crisp also resulted in a drastic reduction of persimmons. (Which are definitely fuyus)
I made this crisp with 6 tablespoons of sugar and found it perfectly sweetened for dessert, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but too sweet for breakfast (er, also with ice cream). If you like your crisp more on the tart side, drop the sugar in the filling down to 3 or 4 tablespoons. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons here, but check out Dinners and Dreams’ recipe (which is also gluten-free and sweetened with honey) if what you have are hachiyas. Feel free to use frozen cranberries in lieu of fresh; there’s probably no need to defrost them first. Quick oats are the key to a light and lovely topping, but old fashioned oats should make a fine, though chewier, substitute.
Serve this crisp with scoops of Vanilla, Honey Yogurt, or Fresh Ginger Ice Cream. The crisp is crispest within a day of being baked, but leftovers keep well in the fridge, and reheat well in an oven or toaster oven, for a few days. All ounce measurements are by weight.
Makes 8 servings
5 large fuyu persimmons (about 1 3/4 pounds), tops (and seeds if there are any) removed, sliced (5 cups)
1 cup (3 ounces) whole, fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
3-6 tablespoons organic cane sugar (see headnote)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 small (or half a large) organic lemon
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 cup (3 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes and softened slightly
flaky salt and coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375º. Have ready a solid 10″ tart pan or 9 or 10″ pie pan poised atop a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any wayward juices as the crisp bakes).
Make the filling:
In a large bowl, toss together the sliced persimmons, cranberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, ginger and salt. Sprinkle the cornstarch over and fold until well-combined. Set aside.
Make the topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Work the butter in with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the butter is blended in and the mixture begins to clump together.
Scrape the fruit and juices into the tart or pie pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the topping lightly over the top, squeezing it into almond-sized clumps. Don’t pack it down. Sprinkle a few pinches of flaky salt, and a teaspoon of coarse sugar, over the top of the crumble.
Bake the crisp until the top is evenly golden and the fruit juices are bubbling thickly, 50-60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then serve warm, preferably with ice cream of some sort.