Tuesday, June 23, 2009

stuffed dried persimmons

Fresh persimmons are delicious too, but dried persimmons are one of my absolutely favorite winter treats. When dried, the flavor and sweetness of a persimmon gets concentrated, the outside gets leathery, and the inside gets gooey. It makes a perfect snack just as it is, but if you go to just a tiny bit of trouble, you end up with a fancy-looking dessert suitable for serving on special occasions.

Where I live, fresh persimmons come on the market in late fall~ early winter. The dried persimmons start appearing about a month later. For this year's New Year's buffet, I decided to stuff some dried persimmons for a picturesque dessert. I found some that were still connected by their woody stems to the rope they had hung from to dry. I removed the stems, and cut the fruit in half. Then I pressed my thumb in the middle of each half to make a deep indentation and stretched the persimmon out a bit. Into each indentation I spooned a mixture of cream cheese, chopped candied yuzu peel, and chopped walnuts. If you can't find candied yuzu peel, use candied orange peel instead, but it won't be quite the same.

Variation: You can also replace the cream cheese with shiro-an (white sweet bean paste), if available. This combination is more in line with traditional wagashi and makes a very sweet dessert that complements green tea-- especially bitter matcha.