Every time it’s the fall, I HAVE to use persimmons in something. They are such an autumnal fruit, and take me back to childhood memories of eating them off the tree in our backyard. What I love about persimmon is that they come in such different forms, depending on the ripeness. With the unripe ones, they have a similar texture to an apple or a pear, but dryer. They are starchy, crunchy, and pleasantly sweet. But when they are super ripe, they almost taste like jam from the jar, but in fruit form. The sweetness is intensified, and there are almost earthy notes to them, as if the fruit was heavily spiced. For this recipe, we have both ripe and unripe persimmon applications. The cake itself is a brown sugar chiffon, meant to be light and airy, to compliment a light chantilly cream. Inside, we have a roasted persimmon puree, made with the ripe persimmons for that intensified flavor, and on top, glass chips that are made with the unripe persimmon(do not attempt the chips if the persimmons are even somewhat ripe, or else you might cut off your fingers on the mandolin!). This recipe just takes me back to simpler times, when 6 year old Fred was more worried about how many more persimmons he could stomach before going to bed. I just love how light and airy the cake itself is, while the roasted persimmon puree adds that complexity in flavor, similar to a really rich, deep caramel, that you might not expect with a cake this simple, but it makes you want to go back for more!
For the brown sugar chiffon cake:
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Whip egg whites with half of the sugar, baking powder, and salt to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whip your yolks with the remaining sugar, canola oil, and vanilla until combined. Sift into the egg yolk mixture your flour. Then fold into that your whipped egg whites. Spread onto a parchment-lined quarter sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the cake to fully cool then cut out 2 6-inch rings, and create a third ring using the scraps.
For the roasted persimmon puree:
2 ripe persimmons
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
Drizzle canola oil and salt onto your persimmons. Place into aluminum foil and roast over fire on high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the persimmons into a blender and puree with water. Then pour through a sieve into a pot and reduce on medium-high heat until the mixture is thick enough to generously coat the back of a spoon. Allow that mixture to cool down before using.
For the chantilly cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Whip until stiff peaks form. Keep chilled until time to use.
For the crystal persimmon chips:
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
a pinch of salt
1 super unripe persimmon, shaved on the 2nd thinnest setting on a mandolin
Bring sugar, water, and salt to a simmer. Poach the persimmon shavings in the liquid, off heat, for 5 minutes. Spread the persimmon shavings on a lined sheet tray and bake at 200 degrees F for 2 hours. Allow the chips to cool before using. Reserve that poaching syrup for your soak.
For the persimmon soak:
2 tbsp roasted persimmon puree
1/2 cup soy milk
Reserved syrup from persimmon chips
Mix together until combined.
Start by laying down the scrap layer of your cake. Pour on 1/3 of the soak. Pipe on a ring of cream, just around the edges of the cake. Pour in about 40% of the puree. Place on the next round of cake and repeat those steps. Then place on the last layer and brush that with soak as well. Spread a thin layer of the cream around the cake just to form a crumb coat. Freeze the cake for 15 minutes. Divide the cream into 3 batches, and mix 3 tbsp of the puree in one batch, and 1/3 cup in another. Spread the creams around the sides of the cake, then pipe the remaining cream on top of the cake. Garnish with the crystal persimmon chips to finish.