Persimmon Tart

Autumn, Sweet Recipes • 19 Nov 2011


Persimmon (1)

The persimmon is a beautiful fruit: a vibrant, glowing coral-hued orb, smooth and shiny like a marble bubble. However, the persimmon is much maligned thanks to one of two commercial available varieties. The Hachiya, the more widely grown persimmon, is extremely tannic. If eaten prematurely, the tongue is treated to symphony of bitterness that lingers, an almost tangibly caustic sensation that envelops the taste buds. When ripe, the fruit, shaped like a glossy plum tomato, can be sweet and earthy, the flesh very soft and juicy. But eat them at your own risk. The window of opportunity for a ripe Hachiya is scanty.

The Fuyu, less available than the Hachiya, is a much more acquiescent fruit. This is the non-astringent variety, resembling a diminutive ochre heirloom tomato. Though not lacking tannins, they are less bitter than their counterpart and more quickly shed the nasty, tongue-puckering quality. They are also versatile. Consume them when firm like an apple or wait until they are soft and fleshy.

Despite the Fuyu’s more charming resume, the Hachiya is more commonly utilized in baking. However, I was determined to find a use for the dozen Fuyu I picked up in Chinatown other than diced in salads, wrapped in Prosciutto or a simple accompaniment to a roast protein. I wanted the Fuyu persimmons to take front and center, their sweetness playing off butter and sugar. So, I made a French tart.

I used a buttery tart shell: flaky, lightly browned and delicate, filled with a simple pastry cream that I folded into a bit of whipped cream. Instead of lining the tart with apples, citrus or berries, I candied autumn-ripe Fuyu persimmons until mellow and supple and lined the tart, overlapping the fruit like flower petals. The secret to properly candying persimmons is time, the heat low and the process slow. Cooking the hard fruit in caramel syrup over low heat renders them succulently sweet and tender, the glaze shimmery like freshly blown glass. Nutmeg and cinnamon permeate the persimmon with a fragrant, late-fall subtleness.

Persimmon Tart

Tart Shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon ice water

Pastry Cream:
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup homemade whipped cream

3-4 Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced, skins on
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup apricot preserves or marmalade
1 teaspoon orange zest

To make tart shell:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in the middle.

2. Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor until well combined. Add butter one tablespoon at a time and pulse, about 10 times, or until mixture resembles pea-sized lumps.

3. Add egg yolk and water and pulse until ingredients are just incorporated and dough is very soft.

4. Roll dough out on a lightly floured work surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer pastry dough to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough up the sides of the tart pan and trim off overhang. Prick the dough with the tongs of a fork several times.

5. Line tart shell with a piece of greased foil and fill the shell with dried beans. Bake, on middle rack for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and continue to bake until golden, about another 15 minutes. Cool tart shell on wire rack.

To make pastry cream:

1. In a small pan, mix the sugar and egg yolks. Sift flour and cornstarch into the egg mixture and whisk until you form a smooth paste.

2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil, just until it begins to foam. Immediately remove from heat, remove vanilla bean, and steadily pour milk into egg mixture, whisking constantly. If the mixture curdles, pass through a fine mesh strainer to remove impurities. Scrape out seeds from vanilla bean and add them to milk mixture. Discard bean.

3. Return the pot to the stove. Over medium heat, cook cream, whisking constantly, until it begins to boil. Turn down heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking until thick. Promptly remove from heat. Pour pastry cream into a bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Cool at room temperature.

To candy persimmons:

1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, nutmeg and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add persimmons and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer gently for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning the persimmons several times to coat, until very tender.

2. Remove pan from the heat and carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon. Reserve the syrup.

Assemble tart:

1. In a medium bowl, fold whipped cream into pastry cream.

2. Melt preserves with 1 teaspoon of water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of persimmon syrup and orange zest to the melted preserves. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Line persimmons on top of pastry cream, overlapping them slightly. With a pastry brush, coat the top of the tart with the glaze. Tart is best served the day it is made.

Yield: Serves 8.

3 Responses

  1. Christine

    I fell in love with persimmons a few years ago, and what an absolutely beautiful and delicious way to serve them! Really looking forward to trying this out–perfect autumn recipe.

  2. Ellen

    Thank you! I made this for thanksgiving dinner and it was REALLY delicious and beautiful! Just a heads up, that the recipe has a typo that says 4 cup of sugar for the pastry cream – it’s actually 1/4 cup. I will definitely make this again, maybe try some other fruits depending on the season.

    • Thanks for letting me know about the typo. 4 cups of sugar would yield a grossly cloying dessert! I’m so glad you made the tart for such a special occassion. And even more glad to hear it came out delicious and beautiful. Thanks so much! And yes, I think it would be lovely with grapes and kiwi or more classic fruit like strawberries and blueberries.

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