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Steamed Persimmon Pudding Cake with Hard Sauce

Servings: 10-12
What is a Persimmon?

Definition: [puhr-SIHM-muhn] The most widely available persimmon in the United States is the Hachiya, also called Japanese persimmon. It's large (up to 3 inches in diameter) and round, with a slightly elongated, pointed base. The Fuyu persimmon is smaller and more tomato-shaped. When ripe, both have a red-orange skin and flesh. The Hachiya is quite soft when completely ripe and has a smooth, creamy texture and a tangy-sweet flavor. If eaten even slightly underripe, it will pucker the mouth with an incredible astringency. The Fuyu, however, is still firm when ripe (firm like an apple) and is not at all astringent. Persimmons are available from October to February. Choose fruit that is plump and soft but not mushy (the Fuyu should be quite firm). The skin should be smooth, glossy and brightly colored. Persimmons that are not quite ripe can be ripened at room temperature. Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Persimmons can be used in baked goods, puddings and other desserts, as well as eaten out of hand. They contain a good amount of vitamin A and some vitamin C.

Source: From The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Persimmon Pudding is a traditional American dessert. Although American, Persimmon Pudding is similar to tradtional English dessert puddings such as Christmas pudding or quince pudding. This style of pudding is generally either steamed or cooked in an oven with a water bath, or Bain-marie. These methods of cooking ensure the pudding remains moist and does not dry out or form a crust.

The pudding is often served with ice cream, Crème Anglaise, whipped cream, apple sauce, or hard sauce. The dessert is best served warm, although it can be served cold as well. Persimmon pudding lasts quite a while when refrigerated, and may be made in large batches to be served over the course of several days. As the pudding ages the various individual flavors mellow and blend together.

Serve this moist delicious pudding cake during the holiday season, for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years.

For the Pudding:
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the pudding mold
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup persimmon pulp (from 2 to 3 ripe persimmons, peeled and seeded)
1 tablespoon brandy
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons baking soda mixed with 2 teaspoons warm water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins

For the Hard Sauce:
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon brandy

Garnish (optional)
Confectioners' sugar

To Make the Pudding:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the persimmon pulp, brandy, eggs, and baking soda/warm water mixture. Stir in the vanilla, spices, walnuts, and raisins and mix on low until the batter comes together, about 5 minutes.

Butter the top and bottom of a 2-quart pudding mold with a lid. Spoon in the mixture. Put the buttered lid on tightly and lock into place. Put the mold in a bigger pot filled with water to come halfway up the side of the mold; cover the pot.

Note: It is necessary to have a well-buttered mold and enough water for ample steam for the pudding to cook correctly.

Bring the water to a simmer and let simmer over low to medium-low heat for about 2 hours. Make sure the water doesn't evaporate; add more hot water if it does. The pudding should be checked with a cake tester once it's been steaming for 1 1/2 hours. When the tester comes out clean, the pudding is done. Take the mold out of the water, remove lid, and unmold when cool, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While the pudding is steaming, prepare the hard sauce.

To Make the Hard Sauce:
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in the brandy. Chill at least 1 hour. Serve with the warm pudding.

Pudding is best served warm, but may also be served at room temperature. If desired, garnish pudding with confectioners' sugar. Slice pudding and serve with hard sauce.

Makes 10-12 servings.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2006

Date: November 24, 2006