Taste of Place: Persimmon Dessert Bars

by | Nov 15, 2015 | Native Plants

A ripe Texas persimmon. Photo: Sally and Andy Wasowski

A ripe Texas persimmon. PHOTO Sally and Andy Wasowski

 

THE MANAGER AT THE WILDFLOWER CAFÉ, Susan Jackson, recently came across some ripe Texas persimmons (Diospyros texana) thanks to the foraging efforts of our director of horticulture, Andrea DeLong-Amaya. Along with a group of volunteers, DeLong-Amaya was harvesting edible native plants as part of the Center’s Taste of Place project, which she helped implement.

Persimmon fruit tends to ripen from late July into September, so this recipe would take a little foresight, but (as with most fruits) a preserve would keep for months and freezing is also an option.

Susan quickly took advantage of the harvest by incorporating the persimmons into a dessert bar featuring a cookie crust and crumb topping. In her estimation, persimmons taste like a combo between blueberry and fig, kind of “earthy.” She wasn’t a huge fan herself (and actually admitted to adding vanilla and honey to try to alter the flavor), but DeLong-Amaya says she loves the taste … and most employees of the administration building (myself included) were quite happy to be recruited as dessert bar taste-testers.

Persimmon Dessert Bars

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Persimmon Filling

  • 2 cups persimmon pulp:
    • To make the pulp, add a little water to about 3 pounds of persimmons and bring to a boil.
    • Lower heat and simmer until the fruit is nice and soft.
    • Smoosh the resulting persimmon goo through a strainer to separate skin and plentiful seeds from fruity, pulpy goodness. (The process is not too different from extracting prickly pear juice, really.)
  • 1/4 cup local Texas wildflower honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Cinnamon Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter
persimmon-bars-preparation

LEFT Persimmon pulp bubbling on the stove. CENTER Susan pushing cooked persimmons through a strainer. RIGHT The finished product. PHOTOS Susan Jackson

DIRECTIONS

Mix all crust ingredients as you would for pie crust, pat into 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

Mix all cream cheese filling ingredients together and pour over crust.

Mix together all the persimmon filling ingredients and pour over cream cheese mixture.

Combine first 3 ingredients of the crumb topping list, then add melted butter and mix till crumbly.

Top with cinnamon crumb topping and bake 30 minutes till firm and slightly brown.

MAKES ONE 9-BY-13-INCH PAN (NUMBER OF BARS DEPENDS ON HOW YOU CUT ‘EM!)

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