Persimmon Tea Cakes

I am fortunate in that a ton of my family friends own persimmon trees. While it is delightful to eat fresh persimmon in peak season at first, admittedly, when you are gifted with 5 pounds of it, you start getting… fatigued by the taste. These little tea cakes were my answer to needing a new way of consuming plethora of persimmon I had. Specifically, I took wedges of the fruit, caramelized them, and then embedded them into sponge cakes. Kind of like an upside-down cake but baked right side up. The caramelized persimmon taste like candy, mostly because they were seared in caramel and just soak up all of that sugar, while the almond tea cakes that they are baked into are perfumed with Assam black tea, which adds a pleasant earthy flavor to the cakes themselves. I also finished off the cakes with a dusting of miso-tea sugar(one of my personal favorite pandemic brain children that basically levesls up almost every dessert that does not contain red fruit in it), to add a pleasant punch of salt and umami to the cakes to really sort of round out the flavor of them!

From a technical side of things, these tea cakes are essentially financier, but I replaced a decent portion of the almond flour and brown butter with almond butter, since I had a lot of almond butter on hand that I needed to get rid of. The benefits of using almond butter in place of some of the brown butter and almond flour is that it does substitute both pretty effectively, while keeping the cakes moist through the baking process. I went with Assam tea leaves because I love the earthiness of Assam tea, and it pairs beautifully with persimmon. The persimmon, I treated basically the same way you treat fruit in a tarte tatin. You make a caramel, sear the shit out of the fruit in the caramel, and then bake it. In this case, I used smaller wedges of the persimmon, so that the moisture gets cooked out faster, since baking fresh persimmon into the financier could add anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes of extra baking time, and you can still run the risk of the cake coming out really dry around the edges where the fruit is not in the batter. By caramelizing the persimmon first, you eliminate that variable, which I personally appreciate!

Makes 12 cakes:
For the caramelized persimmon:
5 persimmons, cut into 8 wedges each
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

In a pan, melt down the butter, sugar, and salt. Once the sugar has fully caramelized and turned to an amber brown color, add in the persimmons. Sear the persimmons in the caramel, on low heat, for 3 minutes on each side. Allow the fruit to fully cool on a nonstick surface before embedding into the financier batter.

For the financier batter:
2 bags Assam tea leaves
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
5oz almond butter
1/4 cup almond flour
3 tbsp brown butter
1 tsp miso paste
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
Caramelized persimmons

In a pot, heat up the tea leaves with water and sugar first. Once the liquid reaches a dark brown color, remove the tea and continue to reduce the mixture into a thick syrup. Whisk the egg whites until frothy first, then pour in the syrup, continuing to whisk until combined. Then add into that the vanilla extract. In another bowl, mix together the almond butter, almond flour, brown butter, miso paste, and cinnamon first. Sift into the almond bowl your flour and baking powder, then fold into that the whipped egg whites to form your batter. Line 12 cupcake tins with cooking spray or butter, then pour in the batter, filling each cavity up about half way with the batter. Press into each tin roughly 3 slices of the persimmon. Bake the financier at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow them to fully cool before removing them from the tins.

For the miso tea sugar:
1 tsp miso paste
1 bag Assam tea leaves
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Spread the miso paste onto a nonstick baking surface. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Puree the paste, tea leaves, and sugar into a fine powder. Dust the tops of the tea cakes.

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