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      RECIPE TITLE "Persimmon Pudding" courtesy of Tom Douglas, Copyright © by Tom Douglas

    ... more great recipes by Tom Douglas on our GREAT CHEFS page!

    yields Makes one 9-inch cake, 8 servings time --- .difficultymoderate

    Persimmon pudding--soft, moist, and almost custardy with the spicy sweet flavors of gingerbread and pumpkin pie--is an old fashioned dessert that tastes just right after a hearty fall dinner. There are many recipes for steamed persimmon pudding, but my version is extra easy because it's baked in the oven. I like to top each warm wedge of pudding with a dollop of hard sauce. When my Grandma Fogarty made hard sauce, she always added Jack Daniels whiskey, but I prefer a good slug of fragrant Clear Creek Pear Brandy instead. --Tom Douglas

    Note on persimmons: Use Hachiya persimmons for this recipe, not Fuyus. Hachiyas must be completely ripe before using, because otherwise they taste unpleasantly astringent. When completely ripe their skins become translucent and their flesh collapses into a jelly. Persimmons are usually available starting sometime in October, so you can buy them ahead. Often you need to ripen Hachiyas at home, which may take a few days, a few weeks, or even a month. As each one ripens, pop it into a sealable plastic bag and toss it in the freezer. Thaw your persimmons when you want to make this pudding.

    To make the persimmon puree, cut the persimmons in half, scrape out the soft flesh with a spoon, and puree the flesh until smooth in a food processor.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    1-1/2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 very ripe Hachiya persimmons, see above note)
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more for buttering the pan
    2 cups buttermilk
    3 large eggs
    3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    pinch salt
    Pear brandy hard sauce (see recipe below), room temperature

      RECIPE METHOD

    Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Butter a 9-inch cake pan, line it with a circle of parchment paper and butter the paper.

    In a large bowl using a whisk, combine the persimmon, butter, buttermilk, eggs, sugars, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool 10 minutes on a rack. The pudding will sink as it cools.

    To unmold the cake, run a thin knife around the cake to loosen it. The top surface of the pudding may be sticky when it is hot, so place a piece of lightly buttered wax paper over the cake pan, then cover with an inverted plate or a cardboard circle. Protecting your hands with a kitchen towel, invert the whole thing. The pudding should slide out onto the wax-paper lined plate. Peel off the circle of parchment, then place another inverted plate or cardboard circle over the pudding. Again, invert the whole thing. Remove both the top plate and the piece of wax paper and the pudding will be right side up. The pudding will be very soft with some syrupy liquid collecting on the plate. Allow the pudding to cool about 10 to 15 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve with a dollop of hard sauce on top of each wedge. The hard sauce should start to melt a little as you serve the warm pudding.

    A Step Ahead

    The pudding can be made up to one day ahead. If you are making the pudding ahead, unmold it onto something that can go into the oven, such as a cardboard circle or the bottom of a springform pan. Allow the pudding to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and leave at room temperature. Before serving, unwrap the cake and transfer it to a baking sheet. Loosely cover the pudding with foil and reheat in a 350-degree oven until warm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

    Pear Brandy Hard Sauce
    (Makes about 1 cup)

    12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
    1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
    3 tablespoons Clear Creek Pear Brandy, or substitute other good quality brandy

    In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle, or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream the butter. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Add the brandy and beat until fluffy. Serve at room temperature.
    A Step Ahead

    The hard sauce can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Bring it to room temperature before serving.


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