Dried Persimmon (or Apricot) & Pumpkin Seed Cookies
- 1/3 cup (50g) pumpkin seeds
- 100 g room temperature butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 small egg
- 1 cup white flour*
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup (50g) chopped dried persimmon or apricot
- 50 g chopped dark chocolate - optional
- * I also make these with gluten-free flour using ½ cup rice flour, ¼ cup buckwheat flour and ¼ cup tapioca flour (or use gluten-free flour mix)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a cookie tray with baking paper.
- First, toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan until golden. Tip on to a plate to cool.
- Place the butter, sugar and honey into a food processor or mixer and blend until creamy. Add the egg and combine. Add flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt, and briefly mix. Add the toasted pumpkin seeds, dried fruit and optional addition of chocolate. Pulse until the mixture just holds together.
- Roll the mixture into 12 walnut-sized balls and arrange, evenly spaced, on the tray. If the mixture is very soft (this may be the case if using gluten-free flour), place in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes to firm up. Gently press the balls to flatten a little. Bake for 12 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully transfer to a cooling rack.
- The cookies will keep for five days in an airtight container.
Autumn is my favourite season. That is mostly due to the produce selection. And it is persimmon that I favour most of autumn fruit. Their almost tropical flavour is a lovely surprise for a fruit grown in our temperate New Zealand climate.
Some years ago we made the difficult decision to remove a persimmon tree from the backyard. This may seem odd considering my aforementioned admission. But it came down to position. The tree had been planted, by a previous owner, smack bang in the middle of the lawn. Although a beautiful tree, especially in autumn when the leaves turn an exquisite burnt orange, the positioning limited our options for prime garden space.
The fated persimmon was also an astringent variety. Eaten by mistake when firm, your mouth feels like it is lined with small feathers. For suitable eating astringent persimmon must be left until jelly-like and eaten in a similar fashion with a spoon. I have a preference for non-astringent persimmon that can be eaten crisp like an apple or pear (preferably peeled first).
Astringent persimmon can be used to make Hoshigaki or Japanese-style dried persimmons. Last autumn, I made them for the first time, and I was raving about them for months.
They do take some effort – first whole persimmons are peeled leaving the stems intact. They are then threaded with twine and hung in a warm ventilated spot for a month or so until dried. But here is the catch – the true labour of love part – each persimmon requires gentle massaging several times a week to bring the sugars to the surface.
If you get this far, the reward is great. Imagine dried apricot crossed with papaya. If you have access to astringent persimmon, and time on your hands, give Hoshigaki a go, you won’t be sorry. I made them last season following the instructions in the beautiful book Grown & Gathered by Matt & Lentil. This online tutorial is similar to the process I followed.
*Recipe first published 23rd May 2018 on Stuff.co.nz.
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