Persimmons. Where have you been all my life? These unsung heroes of the fruit stand were only introduced to me a few years ago at a farmers market. One of the vendors was giving out samples and, as is always the case with food, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try something I’d never seen before. I fell in love instantly, and bought a few to see what else I could concoct with these tomatoey-looking fruit things. Persimmons have a delicate sweetness, and they lend themselves well to savory dishes as well as desserts.
Although I have gone the majority of my life without persimmons, I probably came close to making up for all that lost time just in the past week. It all started with a trip to the farmers market, where I bought way more persimmons than I knew what to do with and a loaf of bread, among other things. When I excitedly proclaimed that the bread was nearly stale, Josh looked confused. I explained that stale bread = bread pudding. Then I thought of the last bread pudding I had eaten at Local Habit in San Diego. What kind was it, you ask? Why it was persimmon bread pudding, and oh yes, it was amazing. Boom! I’d make persimmon bread pudding, using up the stale bread and solving the persimmon problem all in one dish! I found a recipe that looked perfect, but to my dismay, it would use less than half of the looming mound of persimmons I had purchased. Before I could resign to just snacking on them or throwing them in a salad, Josh asked if I could make persimmon ice cream to put on top. Oh. Snap.
It’s a good thing I always have my ice cream attachment stashed in the freezer, ready to churn at the drop of a hat! I whipped up the Cardamom Spiced Persimmon Ice Cream from Kristina of Former Chef, and the Week of Persimmon had begun. I’m actually eating some of the ice cream as I type this. The combination of cardamom and persimmon is out of this world, but it also makes me curious what kinds of savory dishes I could combine the two in.
The bread pudding recipe is from Martha Stewart, which was really the only reason I didn’t run away screaming when I saw that it contained white chocolate. I’m really not a fan of the stuff, but I thought Martha wouldn’t use it unless it somehow worked in the recipe. Surprise, surprise: she was right again! I probably wouldn’t have guessed there was white chocolate in it if I hadn’t known already. Thankfully, it only adds another level of subtle sweetness without competing with the persimmon.
If you don’t want to dive head first into persimmon-mania like I did, you could just serve the bread pudding as it is, or with whipped cream.
Persimmon White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Recipe from Martha Stewart
My persimmons must have been on the small side - I needed more like 4 to make the 1 1/2 cups of puree. Definitely go off of the cup measurement, not the number of persimmons required.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh Fuyu persimmon puree, or 3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled, seeded and mashed
- zest of 1 lemon
- zuice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 cup sugar, plus more, for baking dish
- Unsalted butter, for baking dish
- 10 slices (about 1 1/2 pounds) 1 1/2-inch-thick day-old or toasted brioche, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
- 2 cups milk
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine persimmon puree, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup sugar; simmer over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish, and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Place bread in baking dish; sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a medium saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, white chocolate, and milk; stir frequently over low heat. Remove from heat once chocolate melts.
- Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk warm milk mixture into eggs, being careful not to cook the eggs; stir in persimmon mixture. Pour mixture into baking dish, covering bread completely. Bake until filling sets, about 35 minutes.