Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies
When the persimmons appear in the stores, you know the holidays are coming. That makes them a perfect candidate to use in a holiday treat, like these Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies with Pomegranate Glaze.
What The Heck is a Persimmon, Anyway?
Take a look at your grocery store, there should be a few orange fruits, rather like either a pointed or a very squat orange tomato. Those are the persimmons, and you need to know which kind to eat now, and which to wait on. Important rule: Pointy ones, WAIT. Round ones, Go ahead now, or wait. The pointy ones are called Hachiya persimmons, and they are bitter and tannic when firm. The rounder ones are Fuyus, and they can be eaten sliced, or allowed to completely soften, as I did for this recipe.
Persimmon Lore and Legend
The bright orange fruits feel like something hopelessly old-fashioned and romantic, to me. They weren’t really around when I was growing up, but I remember them being mentioned in books about the olden days, and wondering what they might taste like. Turns out, those persimmons of lore and legend were tiny and intensely tannic and bitter if you took a bite before they had hung on the tree past first frost. The persimmon of North Americas was used by the Natives, once ripe, to make into dried “energy bars” for the winter. It was quickly replaced by the Japanese varieties sent over in the mid 1800’s. That’s when the Hachiyas and Fuyus took over.
Juicy and Enigmatic Persimmon Pulp Is Great for Baking
I picked up a pair of Fuyus and let them ripen until they were completely soft. Then I cut out the stem and scooped out the pulp. I just mashed it, so there were still chunks left, but most of it melted into the cookie dough.
The dough is easy, all mixed by hand in a big bowl. Don’t over-mix, this is a low-fat cookie, and too much stirring will make it tough. Toasting and skinning the hazelnuts is kind of fussy, but worth every second.
Once you bake the cookies, let them cool, then stir up this potent pomegranate glaze. Pomegranate is another fruit we only see this time of year, and it makes a brilliant pink glaze. It’s also famed for its antioxidant levels. But really, it’s Holiday red, so go for it!
I opened up a fresh pomegranate for some juicy arils to sprinkle around the cookies, but you don’t have to. It just looks pretty, and they are fun to pop in your mouth between cookies.
Eating with the seasons sometimes means eating something a little exotic, from somewhere warm. Persimmons and pomegranates are part of the holidays, here, in the land of ice and snow. If we had dried persimmons from out native trees, we’d be eating them now, and wishing we had these juicy, brilliant ones instead.
Persimmon and Hazelnut Cookies with Pomegranate Glaze
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 1 cups persimmon pulp from two very ripe persimmons
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup toasted and skinned hazlenuts coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice approximately
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two sheet pans with parchment papers. To toast the nuts, spread them on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool just until safe to handle. Using a folded towel, rub the nuts to remove the skins. If any nuts refuse to give up their skins, put them back in the oven for 5 minutes longer and try again. Rub off the skins, the coarsely chop. Discard the skins.
- In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda and salt. In a cup, stir the non-dairy milk and flax seeds and let stand for five minutes to thicken. In a medium bowl, stir the persimmon pulp, maple, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir the flax mixture into the persimmon mixture, then stir into the flour mixture.
- Fold in the hazelnuts.
- Use a tablespoon to scoop heaping two tablespoon-sized portions of dough and place them an inch apart on the pans. Flatten slightly to make thick disks. They will not spread. Bake 10 minutes, then reverse the position of the pans and bake for 6 minutes more. The cookies will look dry and the bottoms will be golden.
- Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
- Once the cookies are cool, stir the organic powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon of pomegranate juice. You'll need a few more teaspoons to make the glaze fluid enough to drizzle. Drizzle the cookies and let them dry on the rack, then transfer to an airtight container. Keeps at room temperature for a week.