Every fall I try to convince my husband that persimmons are one of autumn’s best treats. In turn, he reminds me that the most repugnant fruit that he’s ever eaten remains an unripe persimmon. For years we’ve been stuck at this impasse.
Here’s the deal with persimmons. If you yank a hard, yellowish persimmon from its leafy branch and then immediately take a bite, you’ll experience the bitterest fruit around. Have some patience, wait until the orb has turned reddish-orange in color, has softened and maybe even fallen to the ground and you’ll taste a honeyed fruit like no other.
How do I erase a bad food memory or, at the very least, persuade someone to give this berry another try? Persimmon pudding didn’t do the trick nor did persimmon tarts. No matter how beautiful or aromatic I made the offering, the memory of that acrid flavor lingered on.
This year, though, I hit upon a winning combo, matching pureed persimmons with graham cracker crust. Maybe it’s the mild sweetness of the cookies or the contrast between creamy filling and crumbly crust. In any case, this simple crust tends to elevate pies, making them utterly divine. In my case, it changed the status of persimmons from dreaded to desired ingredient.
PERSIMMON GRAHAM PIE
Eons ago, when I attempted my first homemade graham cracker crust, I read “12 graham crackers” in the recipe’s ingredient list and dutifully broke off 12 individual, little cookies. This, I quickly realized, was not what the recipe writer had meant. For 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs, you’ll use 12 sheets of graham crackers. Alternately, you can do what my make-less-work-for-yourself-in-the-kitchen mother used to do and use a store-bought graham cracker crust.
for the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 12 plain graham crackers, crushed with a rolling pin or ground in a food processor or blender)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
for the filling:
3 large or 4 small ripe persimmons, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.
If making your own graham cracker crust, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, melted butter and salt. Fill the pie pan with the crumb mixture and, using your fingers, evenly spread it over the bottom and sides of the pan, pressing the crumbs together to form a crust.
Place the pie crust in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, put the persimmon chunks into the bowl of a blender and puree until smooth in consistency. Pour the puree into a measuring cup to ensure that you end up with 1 cup puree.
Return the persimmon puree to the blender. Add the brown sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and pulse the ingredients together.
Remove the pie crust from the oven. Pour the persimmon puree into the crust.
Return the pie to the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to ensure that the crust isn’t browning too much. If it is, cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil or with pie shields. When finished baking, the filling will have set and puffed up. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.