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Popular Recipes for the Perfectly Ripe Persimmon--Without Puckering : Desserts: They make wonderful centerpiece fruit alone or when combined with other fruit of the season.

December 17, 1989

As orange-red as a sunset on a blazing hot day, persimmons are one of the holiday season's most colorful and exotic fruits.

Said to have been introduced to Western palates by Commodore Matthew Perry after an expedition to Japan in 1855, the Hachiya persimmon is a relative newcomer to the American scene. These persimmons are best eaten when very ripe. Unripened persimmons are astringent and cause the mouth to pucker.

They can be eaten out of hand by peeling them partway and squeezing the pulp into the mouth or, if just ripe without being mushy, peeled and sliced into a salad. The Fryer persimmon is a firmer, more apple-like fruit ideal for eating out of hand.

Most effective is the flavor that persimmon pulp imparts when used as a basis for a baked or steamed dessert, a sauce or jam. Persimmons make wonderful centerpiece fruit alone or when combined with other fruit of the season.

Here are some popular persimmon recipes for holiday entertaining.

MRS. RONALD REAGAN'S PERSIMMON PUDDING

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup pureed persimmon pulp (3 to 4 very ripe fruit)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons warm water

Brandy

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup seedless raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce

Stir together sugar and melted butter. Resift flour with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and add to butter mixture. Add persimmon pulp, baking soda dissolved in warm water, 3 tablespoons brandy and vanilla. Add eggs, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Add raisins and nuts, stirring just until mixed.

Turn into buttered 5- to 6-cup heat-proof mold. Cover and place on wire rack in kettle. Pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up sides of mold. Cover kettle and simmer 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Let stand few minutes. Unmold onto serving dish. Pour about 1/4 cup warmed brandy over pudding and flame. Serve with Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Brandy Whipped Cream Sauce

1 egg

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Dash salt

1 tablespoon brandy flavoring

1 cup whipping cream

Beat egg until light and fluffy. Beat in butter, sugar, salt and brandy flavoring. Beat whipping cream until stiff. Gently fold into egg mixture. Cover and chill.

PERSIMMON CAKE

1 cup shortening

3 cups sugar

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups pureed ripe persimmon pulp

4 1/2 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup orange juice

Cream Cheese Icing

Cream shortening and sugar thoroughly at medium speed of electric mixer. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Add vanilla.

Stir baking soda into persimmon pulp (mixture will stiffen slightly).

Beat into creamed mixture. Beat until well blended.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Alternately add to batter with orange juice. Pour into greased 10-inch tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour and 25 minutes. Cool on rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Spoon Cream Cheese Icing over cake, drizzling down sides. Garnish with sliced persimmons, if desired. Makes 12 to 15 servings.

Cream Cheese Icing

3 (4-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons Cointreau

1/4 cup pureed ripe persimmon pulp

2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese until creamy. Beat in Cointreau, persimmons and enough powdered sugar to desired consistency.

PERSIMMON BREAD

2 cups flour, sifted

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 eggs

3/4 cup oil

2 cups pureed ripe persimmon pulp

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir in raisins and nuts. Beat eggs with oil. Add persimmon pulp and lemon juice. Add flour mixture. Turn into 2 greased 8x4-inch loaf pans and bake at 35 degrees (325 degrees for glass pans) 1 hour or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 2 loaves.

Note: Bread will not have high volume.

MRS. JOST'S PERSIMMON COOKIES

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins, optional

1 cup pureed ripe persimmon pulp

1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream sugar and butter together. Beat in egg. Sift flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves together. Stir in nuts and raisins.

Mix pureed persimmon pulp and baking soda. Add persimmon mixture and dry ingredients alternately to creamed butter and sugar mixture, mixing well after each addition. Drop batter by heaping teaspoons on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen.

COLD PERSIMMON SOUFFLE

2 envelopes gelatin

1/4 cup water

4 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups pureed ripe persimmon pulp

1/4 cup orange Curacao

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1/4 cup chopped or sliced almonds, lightly toasted

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