one man’s trash… ::::
Walking in my neighborhood last month, I noticed some trash on the ground. There was a piece of paper, folded in half, with bold writing, “Free persimmons!” it announced. “Ripe when feels like a water balloon ready to burst.” Ah, I thought, the Hachiya.
People are often confused about persimmon varieties, such as the Fuyu and Hachiya. They are distant cousins: they may be persimmons in name and color but their textures are vastly different. The Fuyu persimmons are the in-hand edible persimmons, easily cut up when firm and put into simple fruit salads. The Hachiya persimmons, those are the acorn-shaped fruits, ones that you must patiently wait for a soupy ripeness to appear or be stung by their astringent bite. Or, if you are bold, targeting those water balloon ripe fruits, ready to be thrown across a college quad, hitting an unsuspecting first-year student. Not that I’ve ever done that before.
Neighbors offering free persimmons are not necessarily being generous: they are likely being crushed under the prolific fruit glowing from their trees. They know that if those baubles of fruit are ignored long enough, they will create a sloppy mess, rotting, long gone from the days of their lovely golden Christmas ornament glow. What better than to pawn them off on the neighborhood, Here, they seem to say, we give you this gift, hands open, smiling. There is a undercurrent of nervousness in the voice of the written request, so subtle, but there.
I am not deterred. The Hachiya persimmons make their way into my kitchen, not via my neighbors, but friends, also blooming with persimmons in a backyard tree. They don’t offer the fruit; I plead. They eye me strangely, shrug and wave me on, and I scurry to the tree like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter, shoving as many persimmons as I politely can, into a grocery bag.
And then I wait.
My plans for Christmas cookies were dashed, realizing that these Hachiya take forever — well, a month — to ripen. My neighbors may have the ability to ignore their fruit for long periods, but me, ah!, I was impatient. A month for the soft, squishiness to appear, my water balloons ready to throw. While I had planned for some simple persimmon cookies initially, I changed my tact mid-recipe, thinking why not try biscotti? They last just as long as the ripening process, if frozen. Biscotti is reminiscent of warm winters cozied with coffee or tea. And so a new recipe was born. And the glaze is like the snowy white that I miss (kind of) from my past Midwestern winters, now just a little powder and ice-like slickness on the biscotti diagonals. If you skip the icing, no matter: the biscotti are just as good without it. The unglazed biscotti are perfect with a sweet cup of creamy coffee or latte, walnut nuttiness coming through in each bite.
While I found the persimmons a gift, unlike the desperate tone of the neighborhood note and the apathy of friends with bountiful trees, there is even a greater gift as of recently. A camera. A fancy camera. For Christmas! I took advantage of the black Friday deals in November and my upcoming paycheck to purchase a Canon Rebel T3i. I still am experimenting with it, sometimes relegating it to the corner of the kitchen and using the point-and-shoot for some shots. You might notice a gradual trend into the higher-end camera photos, once I feel more accustomed to its functions.
Cozy up and enjoy some biscotti. And you know there is gaping freezer space somewhere, where you can keep a store of persimmon puree all year round. If not for you, then for me.
- BISCOTTI: 3 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1⅔ cups (13.75 ounces or 390 grams) very ripe Hachiya persimmons, pureed (see my post above for the description of consistency)
- 5½ cups (872 grams) flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 2 cups chopped walnuts
- GLAZE: 1¼ cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon persimmon puree
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- Cream together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in persimmon puree to blend.
- Stir together dry ingredients and a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients one third at a time into the persimmon mixture, stirring just to incorporate. Stir in the nuts.
- Lay out two large pieces of plastic wrap and place two-thirds of the mixture on top, forming into a flat log. Do the same for the remaining one-third of the dough, forming into a smaller log.* Wrap each log completely in the plastic wrap. Place in freezer. Chill until frozen or almost frozen, at least two hours.**
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unwrap larger log and flip onto well-floured board. Shape into a 15 x 4-inch flat loaf. Transfer to a large parchment-lined baking sheet. (I saved my smaller log in the freezer, to bake another time. If also baking the smaller log immediately, shape into a 14 x 2-inch loaf.)**
- Place shaped loaf into oven and immediately turn heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes (if a small loaf, bake for 35 minutes) until springy but firm to the touch. Cool 30 minutes.
- On a diagonal, cut ½-inch slices from the load, arranging cut sides down onto the lined baking sheet.***
- Bake 25 minutes until golden, flipping halfway.
- Transfer to rack to cool completely.
- TO GLAZE: Mix glaze ingredients together using a whisk, until smooth. Dip biscotti into glaze (or you can drizzle it0. Allow to firm up and serve.
- Biscotti keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container. They can be frozen in foil for 1 month. Yield is 2 dozen large biscotti, 2 dozen smaller biscotti.