A few weekends ago, I was given a bounty of persimmons from my aunt. Her sister has a large persimmon tree in her yard that apparently inundates their family with persimmons come fall–her family, in turn, tries to give away persimmons before they spoil. When she asked me on the phone about my persimmon preferences, I figured I was getting maybe 2 or 3 at most. Imagine my surprise when I met her & her family for lunch and saw ~10-12 persimmons in a bag for me!
I was determined to not let this gift go to waste and soon set about looking for recipes involving persimmon. To be honest, however–there isn’t a large amount of literature dedicated to baking or cooking with persimmons. Its subtle sweetness is best carried through the fresh fruit itself–the meatiness of the flesh gives the impression of an almost savory sweetness. I finally settled on a recipe that I found by Martha Stewart–the household goddess herself. How can you go wrong with her? (Well, let’s forget that little stock trading fiasco of yesteryear of course…)
Because my Fuyu persimmons were hard as rocks I puréed them with my food processor before carrying on with the recipe. If I had the choice, I would wait until they were much softer and more ripe then mash the fruit instead; this would have left more chunks of persimmon in the consistency of the bread itself. But after waiting 2 weeks to make this recipe–no kidding, I really waited in hopes the fruit would ripen!–I figured that I would rather carry through than wait any longer. NOTE: you can only use hard persimmons if they are Fuyu persimmons, or the persimmons with a flat bottom. If you have Hachiya persimmons, which taper to a point at the bottom, you must wait until they are fully ripe and soft before baking with them–otherwise they are quite sour.
The brioche used was from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan, from the fantastic cookbook Around My French Table. (I received it as a gift from my younger brother a few Christmases ago and have been in love with it ever since.) Yes, that’s right–I made my own brioche! It was just as finicky as I had anticipated, and I definitely found that my experience with baking my own bread in the past was a huge resource and help for baking brioche. Honestly, I think the most important part about making brioche is having a stand mixer. Trying to make brioche without one is downright masochistic. I didn’t document my brioche adventure because it was my first attempt, but I’m sure you’ll see something pop up on this site in the future about it..
I’ve not been a huge fan of bread pudding in the past–I found it dense and overpowering–but I think I’ve been eating the wrong types or at the wrong places, because this recipe is delicious. I loved the subtlety of the white chocolate and persimmon; if anything, I would probably reduce the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg by a little more so that they don’t overpower the main flavors. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe and the methods involved in order to get a more consistent bread pudding than my first attempt–I hope you find the recipe helpful and easy to follow! I also cut the recipe in half since James & I can barely finish one serving each on our own.
This dessert would make a great statement at the end of any autumn night with a cup of coffee or glass of milk; a lot of the other folks who have made this pudding have served it as an elegant dessert after Thanksgiving dinner. Whichever way you choose to serve it, I hope you enjoy it!
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.
Persimmon & White Chocolate Bread Pudding
- 3 Fuyu persimmons
- Lemon juice from ½ lemon
- ½ c. sugar
- unsalted butter for the baking dish
- 3/4 lb. brioche cut into 1 in. cubes
- scant ½ tsp. cinnamon
- scant ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- 3 oz. white chocolate chips
- 1 c. milk
- 2 large eggs
- scant ½ tsp. cinnamon
- scant ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Make sure you oven rack is in the center of the oven.
- Cut the stems off each persimmon top, then peel using a paring or chef’s knife.
- If the persimmons are still hard, puree for a few seconds in a food processor. If they are ripe, you can forego the processor and use a masher.
- Place the persimmon puree in a small saucepan with the lemon juice and ¼ c. sugar and stir on low heat until the sugar has just dissolved (you can no longer distinguish the sound of sugar grains scraping against the pan). Set aside.
- Take a small baking dish (mine is 7 x 5 ceramic) and rub butter along the edges and bottom. Sprinkle a small amount of sugar onto the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the brioche cubes into the pan and spread them out evenly–you can either lay them flat for a more tightly-packed consistency, or keep them unorganized (I like this method better, as the top of the bread pudding browns jaggedly and gets more crispy.)
- Use another small saucepan and set the burner on low heat. Combine ¼ c. sugar, the white chocolate and ¼ c. milk and stir on a constant basis until the chocolate has fully melted. Turn off the heat and pour the rest of the milk (3/4 c.) into the saucepan and stir to mix.
- In a large bowl, whisk two eggs together until mixed. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to make sure the heated milk won’t cook the eggs. Once mixed, add the persimmon puree and stir again until the ingredients have combined.
- Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the liquid and stir until evenly mixed.
- Pour the liquid mixture into the baking pan with the bread cubes and make sure that the liquid covers the bread completely.
- Place in the oven for 30 minutes–check after 25 to make sure that the tops of the bread cubes aren’t getting burnt and that the liquid has settled and no longer “jiggles” when you shake the pan.
- Pull the bread pudding out of the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Tastes great with whipped cream!