Sunday, December 05, 2010

Persimmon Bars

Late fall and early winter in the lunar calendar are time for many comfort food.  Hot Pot, SUKIYAKI, Beef Stews, Hot Chili, Onion Soup, etc. and the list goes on to keep us warm through the cold winter. But what about the persimmons? can it make the list? Most of us like to eat it fresh - that is the non-astringent type - FUYU 'KAKI' - persimmons.  And it has been making appearances in some of the restaurant salad, for instance. Many bakers have included it in their baking ingredients and use it like raisins and dried cranberries. Fresh ones are pureed and, so forth.  How about the taste of persimmons after it has been heated?  The flavor diminishes. When fresh, I tested the fresh slice of persimmons with salt and sprinkles of Chili Peppers or lime juice and it tastes great.  But once it is incorporated into flour mixture, the persimmon flavor is suppressed.  Most of the time in a recipe, just like pumpkins, cinnamons and all spices are used heavily to enhance the flavor. Maybe the KAKI should be eaten traditional way - wind dried hanging in the winter or fresh.  But, it's the other curiosity as usual that drive me to think, just maybe, it will work out when used this way.  So, this one is my attempt in using dehydrated HACHIYA persimmons from last year's crop and fresh FUYU KAKI in the ingredients.  My goal is to try to find a way to balance the spice flavor and bring out the taste of persimmons when used in baking.  And at the end, maybe the conclusion will be that the persimmons are best eaten the way it is - fresh, not cooked?  who knows.

I made up the the following Persimmon Bars' filling recipes.  It really tasted good fresh when they were all mixed together before being baked.  Lime is a good choice with persimmons, and I was almost tempted to add chili flakes.

Making the Filling
1/2 C dried persimmon slices
1/4 C Maraschino Cherry juice  **modification - skip

5 Maraschino cherries   ** modification - skip
Fresh lime juice from 1 whole large lime  ** modification use 1/2 C Lime Juice and pulps and zest
1 large Fresh and rather soft FUYU persimmon
1/2 Tbsp Orange Zest
1/4 C sugar  ** modification - 1/2 C sugar

pinch of salt   ** modification - 1/2 tsp salt

*** Modification:  skip maraschino cherry juice and just use Lime Juice throughout and include Lime pulps with persimmons

Combined 1/4 C Marashino cherry juice and dried HACHIYA persimmon slices in a microwaveable glass jar or measuring cup.
  *It does not matter if the dried persimmons is FUYU or HACHIYA. 
Holding Maraschino cherries over the dried persimmons in the glass jar, break them apart into small chunks.
Push the ingredients down to make sure the ingredients are immersed in liquid.
Microwave it for 1 minutes.
Take it out and set aside. 
Add all ingredients into Food Processor.
Using Pulse to chop all food into small chunks. 
*Do not Puree.
By the time the large rehydrated persimmons are chopped into small chunks, the whole thing looks like a jam.

Drying the filling:
Pay visual attention to the liquid level and consistency of the mixture.
Transfer ingredients into a small saucepan.
Over medium low heat, heat the mixture to reduce liquid.
Keep stirring with heat-proof spatula or large spoon.
**Do not brown the mixture. 
Control the stove/range's heat/temperature
Stop when the mixture is thickened and looks like a jam.
Transfer to a large surface plate to cool.  Set aside.

The following recipe is adapted from Chef Nick Malgieri who casted in Baking with Julia Child TV show.  Sicilian X cookies, Baking with Julia Child Cookbook, page 318.  **Half Batch

2-1/8 oz flour about 1-1/2 C flour
1/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter
2 large eggs
1 beaten egg for egg wash

Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a food processor.  Pulse 10 sec.
Add 1 stick butter into processor.  Pulse it 15 to 20 times.
Add 2 large eggs - Pulse again - 10 times & take out and mix by hand.
Knead 4 times gently & wrap & chill in refrigerator.
Take out of the refrigerator after half an hour and roll into log/rope - 12 " long and 3" wide.
Flatten it.  (Roll to 1/4 thick.)
Use knife to split the dough at the top but not cut through like butterfly.
Brush with egg wash all around the edge.
Place Persimmon fillings in the center all the way across the rope.
Seal the dough.
Preheat oven to 350'F

Cut into 2-1/2" log.
Cut  each end just enough to split to make open ends as though you are making a letter 'X'
Place on parchment line baking sheet.
Brush with egg wash.
Bake in the oven 350'F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.   Cool.

It will stay fresh for a month in airtight tin.

My Optional creation - Lime Glaze:
Juice from 1 large lime
1 Cup powder sugar
Mix both ingredients together.
Mix well.  The mixture should be like a glaze.
Drizzle over the bars.  Let the glaze dry before storing in the tin.

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