You wanna know something about me? I get really, really happy when I find a new ingredient at the grocery store. I don’t just mean happy. I mean really, really happy. The kind of happy where you jump up and down, mutter a few words of wonderment to yourself (okay fine, so it was probably loud enough for people to hear me), look around to see if anyone else is sharing your joy, and even clap a little bit. Whether it’s something completely foreign or something I’ve heard all about and simply have never been able to find, I love the excitement of learning about new flavors. Just this week, for example, I found persimmons–something not easily found in Phoenix–sitting right there, so inconspicuously, next to the apples. Aren’t they lovely?
I grabbed a package, finished the rest of my shopping as quickly as I could, and ran home to find the perfect recipe for them. I went through every recipe website, every cookbook, and every cooking magazine I own. This one from epicurious.com was the winner. And what a winner it was. The recipe actually called these bars but, after reading the reviews, I knew they would be more like cake. I made a few minor adjustments and ended up this dessert, which reminded me of a tangy carrot cake.
Lemon-Glazed Spiced Persimmon Cake
adapted fromepicurious.com; originally from Gourmet magazine, December 2004
3-4 very ripe (very soft) persimmons (1 1/4 lbs.)
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 large egg
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. natural applesauce
1 c. loosely-packed dried pitted dates, finely chopped
1 c. walnuts, finely chopped
1 c. confectioners sugar
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Discard dried green or brown calyx (stem and leaves) from each persimmon and peel each with a paring knife. Cut into quarters and puree in a blender or food processor. Transfer 1 c. purée to a small bowl and stir in lemon juice and baking soda. Mixture will become foamy, then jell.
3. Sift together flour, salt, and spices in another small bowl.
4. Whisk together egg, sugar, oil, applesauce, and dates in a large bowl until just combined. Add flour mixture and persimmon mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and stirring until just combined. Stir in nuts.
5. Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
6. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Stir together all glaze ingredients until smooth, then spread over top of cake. Cut crosswise into 6 strips, then lengthwise into thirds, for a total of 18 bars.