The holidays seem like the best time of the year to pull out cherished family recipes. In addition to my great grandma's candied walnuts recipe my mom pulled out last week, she also passed her mom's persimmon cookie recipe on to me - typos, butter stains, and all. I'm not exactly sure what my grandma meant by "add water and raisens" when she didn't list water in the ingredients. Also, what kind of nuts, grandma?? And apparently the rest of the steps after you beat the eggs are just implied.
Since I can't ask her, I'm imagining my grandma looking down at me, "If you can't figure it out, you shouldn't be making cookies."
(Hang tight for your chance to win some hand crafted wooden kitchen tools at the bottom of this post)
Fortunately, it turns out some popular newspaper in the 50s must have printed this persimmon cookie recipe because my aunt's mother-in-law's recipe and just about every other "family recipe" for persimmon cookies I've found online has the same ratios with only slight variations. Or maybe it was the subject of a national recipe exchange chain letter and was so delicious that everyone absorbed it into their family's core set of holiday recipes.
I've put my gluten-free cranberry spin on it and am passing it along to you. I hope you make it again and again, and eventually think of it as a cherished family recipe too. From my family to yours.
Someone was playing a nasty trick when they invented the persimmon (or is it "persimminon," as my grandma writes?). With their vibrant coral skin, they lure you in. As a kid, I unsuspectingly plucked one from our neighbor's tree one afternoon and took a large juicy bite. The soft bitter flesh instantly made me pucker as I ran toward the nearest hose to rinse dry chalky taste from my tongue. And with that, I swore off persimmons for life.
Plus, Lucas thinks he's allergic to persimmons. In the same way that I used to go around telling people I was allergic to "the bear-shaped macaroni and cheese" after I came down with the flu following a big bowl of bear mac and cheese as a kid. Definitely the bears. So, we've kept persimmons out of our kitchen.
Until about a month ago when Alanna picked one up from the market while we shopped for grains to mill. She showed me the difference between the sweet crispy fuyu persimmon best for snacking or salads, and the fleshy hachiya persimmons that taste bitter and chalky when under ripe and are best used for baking.
That's when I learned I'd made a terrible mistake as a kid. I've been making up for lost time by keeping persimmons on hand ever since.
These persimmon cookies are my first cooking endeavor using hachiya persimmons. Even when they're mushy, gushy, and ripe, the tannins in hachiya persimmons can still leave an unpleasant chalky aftertaste but don't worry, when you bake the persimmons into cookies, they don't leave the cookie bitter at all. On the contrary, they're sweet and cakey with crunchy walnuts and tangy cranberry pops throughout. Paired with a vanilla buttercream and a dust of cinnamon, these spiced persimmon cookies taste like the tops of a moist rustic fall muffin.
Alternative title: Spiced Persimmon Muffin Top Cookies.
A wave of nostalgia for being in the kitchen with my grandma came over me as I baked and frosted this rustic family cookie recipe with the artisan wooden measuring cups and icing spreaders hand carved for me by the Polder Family. Polder's Old World Kitchen is a family business operating off their farm in Tennessee, where they craft beautiful handmade wooden kitchen utensils carved almost exclusively from locally sourced, fallen trees. In his dream world, Lucas would join their team, carving up the old cherry tree my brother just chopped down from his yard.
They crafted the wooden scoops and spreaders they sent me out of a light maple with intricate natural patterns on the handle. Beyond just being stunning to look at, the icing knives' smooth texture made frosting these cookies a breeze.
Spiced Persimmon Cookies
- 1 cup gluten-free oat flour** (For non-gluten-free version, replace the oat flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum with 2 cups all-purpose flour)
- ¾ cup sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour)
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup persimmon pulp*
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (or whole milk)
Spiced Persimmon Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the oat flour, sweet rice flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the persimmon pulp, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until just combined.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined.
- Add the cranberries and chopped walnuts and mix until evenly distributed.
- Roll a tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball, then flatten until it is ¼ to ½-inch thick. Place on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper, 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to brown, but they sink when touched. Let cool on baking sheets for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
- Frost with vanilla buttercream and dust with cinnamon. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until completely combined.
- Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Add the heavy whipping cream and beat until smooth and creamy.
*Puree the inside pulp of 2-3 extra ripe hachiya persimmons with the juice of half a lemon until smooth
**I make my own oat flour by putting gluten-free rolled oats in the food processor or blender.