If you’re unfamiliar with persimmons, they’re basically very mild-tasting fruits with texture similar to an apple, but a little softer and meatier. Think the flesh of a tomato, but the non-juicy part. Their flavor is kind of similar to winter squash, but with slightly more sweetness and lots of moisture. There are two main types of persimmons, ‘fuyu’ and ‘hachiya’. Fuyu’s have a less stringent flavor than the hachiya persimmons, and fuyu is the variety I’ve used here. But you can use hachiya, you just have to make sure they are very ripe when you use them and are soft like a tomato. Persimmons are wonderful in both sweet and savory applications, you can puree them and put them in cake batters (this will be coming your way soon) or ice cream, or you can use them in stews or in sauces. Last week I pureed some persimmons with half of a roasted winter squash from the garden and made risotto, which was insanely good. They’re surprisingly versatile little fruits whose mild flavor pairs well with a wide variety of other ingredients.
Here, I paired persimmon with one of my all-time favorite foods, Vermont Creamery’s Madagascar Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche. This is basically regular creme fraiche with straight-up vanilla beans pureed into it, so as you can imagine, it’s pretty much the best thing ever. If you’re unfamiliar with creme fraîche, it is basically cream that has been cultured with bacteria that make it more flavorful and create this insanely thick and velvety texture. It’s like what yogurt cultures do to milk, but with a much milder flavor and a really silky mouthfeel. If you really want to get your fraiche on, you can look at more recipes here. I’ve found their plain creme fraiche at most markets, but the vanilla bean one can be hard to find, so you can either order it online or use their regular 8 ounce plain creme fraiche and mix it with 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste to recreate it at home. Either way, when you use it as a base for custard, you know that custard is going to be pretty damn good. I sliced up the persimmons really thin and placed them on top of the custard filling, and then sprinkled a little sugar on top before popping it in the oven. Once it was done, I brushed it with a bit of honey syrup and took a giant bite. The persimmon paired so, SO well with the creme fraiche and honey syrup that I just stood there eating tart for about 10 minutes before I realized I should probably stop and save some for Jeremy. So if you’re scouting for an impressive sweet to make for the holiday season, I can’t recommend this highly enough. Your eyes, your palette, and your guests will be very pleased!
Spiced Persimmon and Crème Fraîche Custard Tart
Spiced Tart Crust
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 9 tablespoons frozen unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Persimmon Custard Filling
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 ounces Vermont Creamery Madagascar Vanilla Bean Creme Fraiche
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely diced fresh rosemary
- 1 large or 2 small persimmons very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons water
- For the spiced tart crust, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter over the bowl, pausing to mix in the butter shards every 20 seconds so they don’t just form a large butter clump on the top of the bowl. Add the cold milk and then the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring the dough with a wooden spoon and then working it slightly with your hands to incorporate all the flour. If it doesn’t come together, add another tablespoon of cold water and mix, repeat if necessary until a solid dough forms. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick, making a circular shape that is at least 11 inches in diameter. Press it into a 9-inch tart pan and trim off the excess. Prick it all over with a fork and then cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.For the custard, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a large casserole dish 3-inches deep with water and place it on the lowest rack in the oven.
- Whisk together the eggs and yolk in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the creme fraiche, 1/3 cup sugar, milk, flour, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt over low heat until combined. Allow to cook until hot but not boiling, stirring every minute. Remove from heat and ladle one scoop of the creme fraiche mixture into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously. Continue ladling the hot creme fraiche mixture into the egg mixture until all of the mixture has been incorporated, whisking constantly. Stir in the fresh rosemary and set aside.
- Remove the tart crust from the refrigerator and remove and discard the plastic wrap. Pour the custard into the tart crust until the tart is nearly full. Arrange the persimmon slices in four small fans, one in each quarter of the tart, and place one slice in the center. Sprinkle the top of the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake until the custard is a deep golden brown and has just begun to set, about 45 minutes. Turn the oven off, leave the oven door ajar, and allow to cool for 30 minutes in the oven before removing the tart from the pan.
- While it is cooling, heat the honey and water in a small saucepan over low heat until they form a smooth syrup, about 4 minutes, stirring every minute. Remove from heat.
- Once the tart has cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the persimmons with the honey syrup. Serve immediately.