Friday, December 3, 2010

Grandma's Secret Christmas Persimmon Cookies

I'd say I've been pretty open on this blog, right? I mean, I share all my recipes, let you in on all the yummy bakeries and patisseries I visit, heck I even link my posts so you can investigate them for yourself. So I think having one secret recipe is ok. In fact, its more than ok, its necessary. Tell me, if you received a small piece of paper covered in food stains with a recipe for persimmon cookies that had been typed up on a typewriter BY YOUR GRANDMA, wouldn't you keep it a secret too? I thought so. And that is why at the end of this post you will find no recipe, but I will give you a really good story.

My grandma is the best. She is an 80-something Sicilian woman named Josephine who makes the best spaghetti sauce and meatballs you will ever have in your life. She has a great head of white hair and is rather short, but she has a big heart.  Here is a recent picture of her and I at my graduation.

My Grandma has led an interesting life, more than I think I will ever know. She always says her life was really boring and that there is not much to tell, but every time I manage to get something out of her it is an incredible little tid-bit. For example, she told me that she use to ride her horse bareback to get the mail when she was a little girl. That's BA! And I mean, with a face like this, how could her younger years have been boring?

That's my Grandpa next to her. I never met him since he died when I was born. But everyone says he was pretty amazing too.

On one visit to my Grandma's house, I was rifling through some of her old recipes when I came across a rough looking piece of paper with lots of character, her recipe for persimmon cookies. Naturally I was intrigued because the recipe itself looked magical, as if using it would open a secret doorway into the past or possible make your garden to come to life, you know, something of the sort, so I asked if I could have it. I was delighted when she obliged, but also scared that I would lose it so I tucked it away in my Bible. It stayed there for about a year, as I impatiently waited for persimmons to come back into season.

And well, guess what? It is finally persimmon season! So I went to the farmers market to get some Hachiya persimmons, because you can't bake with the firm Fuyu ones.

See how they are longer and pointed at the end, this is what you want look for when baking with persimmons.

I waited a painstaking 4 weeks for the suckers to ripen, but when they finally did, the magic I expected to happen happened. I was wrong about the garden thing, but a door did open, a door to Christmas past. For when I popped one of these rather unattractive cookies (let's face it most magical things are unassuming) in my mouth, I felt a rush of old time Christmas comfort. It may have been the warm spices I used, or possibly the nuttiness of the pecans mixed with the persimmons, but I'm pretty sure it was magic. 

I wonder if my grandma knows about the Christmas magic in these cookies? I bet she does. I bet when she pops them in her mouth memories of her in a beautiful Christmas dress, twirling with my grandpa rush in... if only for a moment. 


  1. I am going to bake some persimmon cookies this year. I do have the Hachiya persimmons. I have been drying them. If you have not tried the dried Hachiya persimmons, they are wonderful. They dry best if they are not ripe and mushy. All the astringency goes away and the sugar comes out, so much so, that people have asked if I sprinkle sugar on them. slice them about 1/8 to 1/4 inch and dry in your food dryer. I found mine at a thift store and have been drying persimmons every December. They are wonderful to share because most people have never had them, and they can't believe how good they are. They look beautiful on a plate as a centerpiece, also.
    Jerry Grinstead
    President, National Marshmallow Roasters Institute

  2. And to add to my last comment, I've now posted photos and instructions about drying Hachiya persimmons at my blog -

  3. Was wondering if I could use the close up picture of persimmons for a recipe book. I'm making a Christmas present for my kids. It has our favorite recipes with pictures of them. I wanted to include a few food pics but don't have any. I am not selling the book. It's only for personal use.


    Barb in CA

  4. Of course you can Barb! Sounds like a great Christmas present, good luck!