In season October through February, bright orange persimmons are often found adorning holiday tables … but have you ever tried them before? Much to our embarrassment, neither of us had feasted on persimmons until Catarina, a Facebook fan from San Ramone, CA sent us a box filled with Hachiya (hi-CHEE-ah) persimmons picked straight from her father-in-law’s backyard persimmon tree.
The back story behind these gorgeous orange orbs is as follows (it gets a little complicated, so follow closely):
> Catarina posted a note on our Facebook fan page asking if we could give her mother-in-law’s persimmon cookies a healthy makeover. Made with a cup of Crisco, she hoped The Meal Makeover Moms could lighten things up with a healthier oil.
> Catarina is married to Robert, and they have a 6-year old son named Enzo. Robert’s grandparents, Salvadore and Rose, had a persimmon tree in their backyard, which Robert enjoyed as a child.
> Robert’s dad now lives in the house, and the tree continues to bear its beautiful fruit each autumn.
The original cookie recipe (which Catarina sometimes turns into “bars”) called for 2 cups of all-purpose flour, a cup of Crisco, and a cup each of sugar, persimmon pulp, raisins, and chopped walnuts. “I love it because it’s a family recipe that’s been passed down. While I’d like to put a cookie in Enzo’s lunchbox, I’d feel a lot better if the oil was more heart friendly,” Catarina told us.
So for our Recipe Rescue we …
> Replaced the cup of trans-fat laden shortening with half a cup of canola oil.
> Cut the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup (we tested the recipe with brown sugar and granulated, and either works fine).
> Replaced some of the flour with whole wheat.
> Tested the recipe in a 9×13-inch baking pan as a “bar.” Catarina used the batter for cookies (how’s that for versatility!?).
Here’s what Catarina thought of the new cookie recipe: “I LOVE the new recipe! I could immediately taste the difference without the Crisco. It is a clean, crisp taste. Robert said that he wants to be ‘bad’ when he eats a cookie, and that is why he eats cookies. But he was pleasantly surprised with the taste. I bet I could increase the sugar back to 1 cup for special occasions.”
Sweet Spiced-Persimmon Bars
Makes 24 Servings
This batter can be turned into a bar or a cookie. You can either use brown sugar or granulated sugar. If you use brown, your bars/cookies will be a little darker in color and moister in texture.
- 2 very ripe Hachiya persimmons (to yield 1 cup puree)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup golden raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Use a knife to remove the green top of the persimmons as well as any grainy middle or seeds. Place the persimmons – skin and all — in a blender or a food processor and blend to a smooth pulp. Measure off 1 cup of puree and reserve (and freeze) any remainder.
3. In a bowl, combine the persimmon pulp, egg, and baking soda. Whisk together and set aside (the mixture will gel slightly).
4. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and canola oil until well combined. Add the persimmon mixture and whisk to combine.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and stir until combined. Stir in the nuts and raisins.
6. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 bar): 160 calories, 8g fat (0.5g saturated, 0.9 omega-3), 80mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein
Catarina’s Sweet Spiced Persimmon Cookies
The batter yields 30 cookies. They are lower in saturated fat and calories than the original recipe because we nixed the shortening, and they don’t contain any trans fats (the original recipe had 2.5 grams trans fat per cookie while our new-and-improved cookie and bar have none)!
To make the cookies, Catarina used a scoop, which looked like a small ice cream scoop (around 2 tablespoons). She baked her cookies for 18 minutes, though depending on your oven and the type of cookie sheet you use, the cookies could be done as soon as 12 minutes.
We had a great time giving this recipe a healthy makeover. It’s perfect for a snack or dessert, and thanks to the persimmons (a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene), whole wheat flour, canola oil, raisins, and omega-3 rich walnuts, it’s an easy way to boost the nutrition of your family’s diet.
For lots more information on persimmons be sure to listen to this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast. And to see all the photos from our persimmon cookie “Rescue,” visit our Meal Makeover Moms’ Flickr page.