This was my first foray into the world of persimmons and, now I’ve tried them, it won’t be my last!
Fuyu persimmons have really only recently made their presence known in local Kiwi supermarkets – well at least where I live. Vibrantly orange and shaped almost like a large squat tomato, they’re not easily missed on the shelves.
Of course I bought some, despite the fact I had no idea about how to use them. A quick Google session later and I discovered they’re most commonly enjoyed sliced fresh, doused in yoghurt or tossed in a salad. So, I gave one a try and was surprised by how delicious it was – sweet and juicy with a delicate flavour like nothing else I’ve had before.
I was keen to do something a little more upbeat with the remainder of the persimmons I’d bought, so did some more investigation. I found two really similar recipes for baked persimmons – one from Kiwi chef, Nadia Lim and one from New Zealand’s ‘Food’ magazine (June/July 2016; Issue 89). I took the best of both, combining the persimmons with Nadia’s sensational spiced lime and honey syrup dressing, and Food’s decadent vanilla mascarpone and candied walnuts.
And, can I just say…. WOWSERS. The spiced lime and honey syrup was to die for – the perfect, zingy dressing to accompany the delicately flavoured persimmons. Together with a dollop of the creamy, sweet vanilla flavoured mascarpone and a good scattering of caramelized walnuts and well… you’re in food heaven, I can tell you!
HONEY BAKED PERSIMMONS WITH CANDIED WALNUTS & MASCARPONE
For the baked persimmons:
- 4 firm ripe Fuyu persimmons
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled (or you could finely slice a ball of stem ginger)
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp liquid honey
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2-3 limes
- 1/3 cup boiling water
For the Vanilla Mascarpone*: (Can be made ahead )
- 14 oz mascarpone cheese
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the candied walnuts: (Can be made ahead)
- 1.7 oz salted butter
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar (or brown sugar)
For the baked persimmons:
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
- Cut persimmons in half horizontally (you can leave the skins on). Place persimmons cut-side-up in a small baking dish.
- Combine cinnamon, ginger, star anise, vanilla, honey, lemon zest, lime juice and boiling water in a bowl, then pour over persimmons.
- Cover baking dish lightly with tinfoil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until persimmons are soft, yet hold their shape (you’ll find that the honey syrup thickens during this time). Check on the persimmons a couple of times during the cooking time and ladle over some of the honey syrup if it’s getting dry (while they’re cooking you can do both the mascarpone cream and the candied walnuts).
- Once they’re cooked, switch oven to grill (broil).
- Remove tinfoil and spoon honey syrup over the top of the persimmons, then return to the oven to grill for 5-10 minutes or until the tops are caramelized Serve immediately with the mascarpone and candied walnuts, drizzling the extra syrup over top.
For the Vanilla Mascarpone:
- In a small bowl, mix together the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Store in fridge until needed.
For the Candied Walnuts:
- Melt the butter in a large fry-pan (skillet). Add walnuts and sprinkle over the muscovado (or brown) sugar. Cook, stirring until sugar melts and the walnuts are coated in caramel. Allow to bubble for 5 minutes, taking care they don’t burn, before transferring to a board lined with baking paper, to cool.