3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 ripe Hachiya persimmons
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup milk
3/4 cup golden raisins
Boiling water, as needed
1/3 cup brandy
Vanilla ice cream for serving
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 2-quart steamed pudding mold and its cover.
Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Cut off the top from each persimmon, then cut in half. Scrape the pulp from the skin into a food processor fitted with the metal blade or into a blender. Puree until smooth; you should have 1 cup puree.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg into a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the persimmon pulp, brown sugar, eggs and milk and whisk until blended. Gradually stir the persimmon mixture into the flour mixture until fully combined. Let the batter stand until thickened to the consistency of thin sour cream, about 20 minutes.
Stir the pecans and raisins into the batter. Pour into the prepared mold; cover with well-buttered waxed paper, overlapping the rim slightly, and then set the cover over the mold. Place the mold in a larger baking pan in the oven. Pour boiling water into the pan to reach one-third up the sides of the mold. Bake until the pudding is set and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 2 1/2 to 3 hours; check periodically and add boiling water as needed to maintain its original level. Remove the mold from the baking pan and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
To serve, remove the cover, invert the pudding onto a serving plate and lift off the mold. In a small saucepan, warm the brandy over medium heat just until it begins to bubble around the edges. Immediately remove from the heat and ignite with a match. Pour the flaming brandy over the warm pudding. When the flames die, serve the pudding immediately with vanilla ice cream.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series,Winter, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).
Date: December 28, 2002