When I was a child, my grandma would always send the family a big tin or two of homemade goodies for the holidays. Date pinwheels, persimmon cookies, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate chip cookies…the contents never varied. Opening that tin always felt like saying hello to old friends and getting a big, warm hug from Grandma. The chocolate-covered pretzels were my personal favorite, but I always wondered about those persimmon cookies…what, on earth, is a persimmon?
I don’t recall ever seeing a real persimmon, let alone eating one, as a child. In these, my grown-up days, I happen to live in a locale where persimmons are a regular seasonal occurrence. I recently found myself with a brimming bowl of fresh, organic fuyu persimmons collected from our weekly CSA box.
Now, since we began receiving this box of local, seasonal, organic produce, I have familiarized myself with all sorts of new and wonderful fruits and vegetables. Through my seasonal food adventures, I have grown quite an unlikely affection for the beet and his fellow root veggies, like parsnip and turnip. I find myself planning an entire meal around a giant daikon or watermelon radish…radishes, really? The fresh figs are like a delicacy and persimmons have become a fall staple in my fruit bowl. The kiddos these days, they seem to tell time by holidays: first it was Halloween, now Thanksgiving, and then it will be Christmas! I, however, gauge the passing time by the contents of my produce box: first come the figs, now the pomegranates and then we will have persimmons!
I love my seasonal produce and I do so look forward to certain appearances in that box. That being said, a girl can only eat so many persimmons in a day. So, in a what-to-do-with-this moment, I thought of Grandma’s persimmon cookies and set about to create my own version of this seasonal treat. Keep in mind, these cookies are nothing at all like Grandma’s traditional version. I decided to go with a jam thumbprint sort and of course, in keeping with my raw, no-bake style, mine are “baked” in the dehydrator.
First, I started with the persimmon jam. Oh, homemade jam does not get easier than this! You know how I feel about recipes that do not require set or exact measurements…they are my favorite. For this small jar of jam, I used about 6 small to medium-sized fuyu persimmons. I peeled and chopped the fruit, then mashed it up in the food processor (I like it a little chunky). I added a dash of cinnamon and a spoonful of maple syrup and that’s it. Simple, raw, healthy and no preservatives. A jar full of sweet spread for any number of snacks, like cookies, toast or PB&J sandwiches.
Last Saturday, the hubby and I decided to head out to hunt for some nature magic with which to create a worthy panorama or perhaps a time-lapse video. It had just rained for two days, so the hills promised some snow. I was all excited to try out my new jam and pack myself a PB&J sandwich, but oops, no bread. No worries, almond butter and persimmon jam did just fine for dipping with my favorite crackers. It was a perfect throw-it-in-the-pack, day-in-the-outdoors snack.
I so enjoyed that treat, perched high on a rock with my hubby, watching storm clouds dance over snow-covered mountains. For hours, we marveled at those clouds, the dance of continuous formation and destruction, the never-ending cycle of evaporation, condensation, precipitation. Constantly changing, yet always the same. We are enjoying this new adventure, trying to capture that magic on camera. And I love the process of creating new memories in the midst of old traditions…always changing, ever the same. That was a good day. That was a good snack. That is a good memory.
Okay, I got a little side-tracked there (how can you not get distracted by dancing clouds?). Back to the cookies. I decided to use raw walnuts and pecans for the base because they were the only nuts left in the house. I had exactly 1 1/2 cups with the two combined. Phew! No last minute run to the grocery store. I used moist Medjool dates for the sticky factor, cinnamon for the spice, maple syrup for sweetener…and that’s it. I think. I have this thing about recording my concoctions. I never remember to write up a proper recipe as I go, but here is my best recollection.
Persimmon Dehydrator Cookies
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/3 cup buckwheat groats, soaked and dehydrated
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
- 3/4 cup fresh persimmons, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (add more or less depending on your tastes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- dash of salt
- Grind nuts in a food processor to form a course flour.
- Add pitted dates and pulse until combined.
- Add persimmons, maple syryp, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and buckwheat groats. Pulse to combine ingredients until a sticky dough forms. If your dough is too wet, you can add more nuts and/or buckwheat groats.
- Drop spoonfuls of dough onto lined dehydrator trays and use a spoon (or your thumb) to form “thumbprints” in the center of each cookie. Fill thumbprints with jam and dehydrate overnight.
I indulged in some cozy cookie time with some late afternoon tea, just as the sun began to fade on this cool autumn day. These kinds of moments always fill me with a comforting warmth. That warmth you find in the company of old friends, grandma hugs and cinnamon-spiced childhood memories.
I always thought it interesting, the way we tend to associate treasured memories with food. Good food and good times always seem to go hand-in-hand. And from this day on, having created a new memory from an old favorite, persimmons will always remind me of storm clouds dancing over snow-covered mountains.