I didn’t grow up with persimmon cookies, though old-timey persimmon pudding was standard on my grandmother’s table and at farmers’ markets when I moved back to Greensboro, North Carolina after my Peace Corps service. While researching my cookbook on Southern fruit, I found persimmon cookie recipes in abundance, and not only from Southern sources. Indiana cooks love wild persimmons with a passion, and their cookie repertoire bears this out. Simple to make, these cookies make a perfect way to put extra persimmon pulp to use, after you’ve made enough for persimmon pudding, pie, pound cake, ice cream, and more. Nothing fancy-looking about these little gems, but they deliver flavor, comfort, and the pleasures of spice and cake in hand-held form. Comfort food all the way, with the flavors and spirit of winter in every bite.
I skip the mixer and stir everything together by hand, mixing chopped pecans and raisins with the flour. Pumpkin puree works fine if you don’t have persimmon puree; and I’ve had great success with both wild persimmon puree and mashed persimmon pulp made from the fuyu persimmons and hachiya persimmons available in grocery stores and at Asian markets and farmers markets through the winter months.
Switch out pecans for walnuts or hazelnuts if you prefer, and try currants or dried cranberries in place of raisins.
Look for fuyu persimmons, which are shaped just like tomatoes and very firm, even when they are ripe. Core, peel, and mash or blend the flame colored flesh to a smooth puree to use in recipes like this one.
Bake these gems in big-little cakes as a hand-held treat, or make them into petite little bites to stretch the batch and please many people. The cookie dough keeps for 2 days in the refrigerator, so this is a great recipe to mix up and have on hand all winter long: The baking season!
I love them so much that they don’t last long enough to be a storage challenge, but I find that they maintain moistness especially well. If you like them more chewy, set them out on a plate for an hour or two before serving them if they’ve been in an airtight container for a day or so. They are rustic, sturdy, beautiful, and satisfying. If you don’t have persimmon puree, use pumpkin puree for wonderful results.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup butter, softened (1 stick)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup persimmon puree
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Heat the oven to 350°.
- Set out a baking sheet and grease it generously, or line it with baking parchment or waxed paper. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Use a whisk or a fork to stir them together evenly and well.
- Add the walnuts and the raisins, and stir to mix them into the flour.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat them together well.
- When they are soft and completely combined, add the egg and beat until the mixture is soft, fluffy, and smoothly combined.
- Add the persimmon puree and the baking soda and beat to mix them in completely.
- Add the flour mixture to the big bowl and stir gently, using a wooden spoon or a spatula, to mix everything together into a very thick batter or dough. Stir just until the flour disappears.
- Scoop the dough into rounded 2-inch portions and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake at 350° until the cookies have risen and are plump, shiny and nicely browned 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove to a cooling rack or a large platter and let cool to room temperature.
- Store in an airtight container for 3-5 days.