Recipe Corner: Persimmon Walnut Raisin Cookies Contributed by Mrs. Alice Vartanian

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Persimmons are perhaps the most beautiful fruit of the fall and winter season. Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked, and are commonly used around the world in jellies, drinks, pies, cookies, curries and puddings. These persimmon cookies are filled with walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and a variety of warm spices that smell wonderful when they are baking.

Alice Vartanian with her late husband, Arthur Vartanian, and their
children Philip, Christine and Steven Vartanian at their Fresno home in the
1980s.

This recipe from Mrs. Alice Vartanian of Fresno, was originally published in December 2018, but is reprinted again this month. These persimmon cookies are an all-time favorite with Mrs. Vartanian’s family, and she has lovingly baked at the holidays for many years. “Persimmons are so prevalent here in Fresno, and many of my late friends and relatives always made these cookies (or a variation of them) for their families, church bazaars, luncheons, and special celebrations. These were very creative and talented women who loved to cook, and who enjoyed making a variety of traditional Armenian cookies, breads, and desserts at Christmas and for the New Year. It was very common to walk into any Armenian kitchen and see persimmons ripening in a large fruit bowl, waiting to be made into cookies, cakes, puddings, marmalade, or muffins,” remembers Mrs. Vartanian.

Mrs. Vartanian was born in Lowell, MA, and is a graduate of Lowell High School. With her talented brother, Stanley Sarkisian, Alice played classical piano and performed in many musical recitals and concerts during high school. Her parents were the late Levon and Pepay Sarkisian, immigrants from Adana. She was married to the late Arthur Vartanian, and is the mother of Christine Vartanian Datian, a contributor to the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, and Steven and Philip Vartanian. She is a member of the Ladies Guild at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in Fresno.

Alice is known for her culinary skills and creative abilities.

There is a variety of persimmon indigenous to the southern United States, but the two most common are Asian varieties – Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu are sweet, squat and yellow-orange, and ready to eat when still slightly firm. Hachiya, which are larger than the Fuyu and have a tip at the bottom, need to be super ripe and almost too “squishy” to pick up before you try to eat them.

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Persimmon has been popularly grown in Japan for the past 1,300 years and is also produced in China as well as other parts of the world. Look for persimmons with smooth skin and no bruising.

Persimmons are sweet and sour, and their texture is slightly reminiscent of apricots or peaches, so they’re often pureed or baked into goods, but they’re also delicious raw. Many home cooks and chefs are finally discovering the great versatility of using persimmons in many savory preparations as well as sweet ones during this season.

Ingredients:

1 cup persimmon pulp (from 2-3 medium persimmons), skins removed, pureed

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg, beaten

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon orange or lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon each ground cloves, nutmeg and ginger

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins or chopped dates

1 cup dark chocolate chips

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.

In large bowl, cream the sugar and the shortening until fluffy. Add the egg and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, zest, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, and mix to combine.

Add the persimmon puree, nuts, raisins, and the chocolate chips, if desired. Drop by the rounded spoonful on baking sheet and bake until cookie top springs back when touched, for 12 to 14 minutes.

Remove cookies from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5-8 minutes before
transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Note: This recipe can easily be doubled. Also, once cooled, dip half the cookie in melted dark or white chocolate and sprinkle with finely chopped nuts. Dried cranberries and cherries, chopped pecans or almonds may be added to this recipe. Or use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to replace the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger for this recipe. Cookies may be glazed with orange or lemon glaze, if desired. If you want the persimmon flavor to shine through, serve cookies plain or lightly dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies.

For more persimmon recipes, go to:

http://www.californiagrown.org/blog/perfect-uses-for-persimmons/

https://www.marthastewart.com/275469/persimmon-recipes

https://www.cookingchanneltv.com/devour/2013/11/what-to-do-with-persimmons

See:

https://mirrorspectator.com/2018/12/20/recipe-corner-persimmon-walnut-raisin-cookies-contributed-by-mrs-alice-vartanian/

 

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