Persimmons have always looked rather unappealing to me – bruised, overly ripe, and way too soft, as if they would burst and ooze at the slightest touch. Sometimes, their skins had black streaks which made them appear almost rotten. I could never understand why my Mom liked them so much. As a teenager, I vividly remember countless times when she would lovingly offer me some of its dark orange, almost gelatinous flesh cradled in her hands, and how I would rebuff her each time. Being the bratty teen that I was, I would crinkle my nose, make that “face” that signifies utter disgust and total disinterest, and walk away with my hands folded across my chest, without ever tasting it. She seemed almost disappointed that she couldn’t share her enjoyment of this “weird” fruit with me, yet, somehow, she also had a look of relief that I now assume meant, “Yippee, I get to eat all of this luscious fruit by myself.” She would always cut the persimmon in half and expertly take spoonfuls of fruit, leaving the peel almost completely intact, her hands sticky and dripping with orange-colored juice.
Sometimes she would shake her head and shrug, probably thinking to herself how foolish I was being.
Then, last Sunday, it happened. While at the farmers market, I found myself standing in front of a vendor selling persimmons. There were two distinct types, the Hachiya, the pointy kind that my Mom loved, and the Fuyu, which resembled a firm, faded orange tomato. Instead of making that “face,” I grabbed a sample of the Hachiya, which looked like bright orange “goo” on a small plastic spoon. It was the sweetest, most luscious fruit I had ever had in my life. It tasted like an almost liquified combination of mango and apricot jams. It was amazing! I also sampled a couple of slices of Fuyu, which was also sweet and firm, and more delicate in flavor. At that moment, I finally understood why my Mom loved this fruit that I had always found to be peculiar.
I shook my head, not in disgust at the slght of the fruit, but in the foolishness of my youth.
Sometimes, Mom does knows best!
I had intended to use both types of persimmons in this galette, but I ended up eating all the Hachiyas, just like my Mom has done for years, using a spoon to scoop out the silky smooth, jelly-like pulp . I stretched out my sticky hand to offer some to my husband, who foolishly shook his head at me. I smiled and shrugged, thinking how lucky I was to have all the persimmons to myself.
Yields 6 servings
1 pre-made pie dough, homemade or store-bought
Flour, as needed, to roll out pie dough
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or cream
Sugar, as needed, to sprinkle on dough
For the Persimmon Topping
3 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1/2 large orange
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
3 medium-sized Fuyu persimmons, fully ripened
For the Cream Cheese Filling
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of 1/2 large orange
For the Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream
4 ounces (1/2 cup) crème fraîche
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 – 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste, to taste
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sprinkle flour on the work surface and on the pie dough and roll out to about 11″ in diameter and 1/4″ thick. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, orange and lemon zests. Rub the sugar and zest together with your hands to release the citrus oil into the sugar. Add a pinch of salt and the Grand Marnier and mix well. Set aside.
Cut the stems and peel the fuyu persimmons. Slice them in half, and cut into thin slices, about 3/8-inch thick. Remove any seeds, if needed. Place the persimmon slices in the sugar mixture and toss to coat well. .
Prepare the galette filling by placing the cream cheese, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of the food processor and process until well combined. Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture in the middle of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border all the way around. Arrange the persimmon slices on top of the cream cheese. Fold up the edges around the fruit, pressing on the pleats together. Place the galette on the lined baking sheet. Brush the edges of the dough with the milk or cream, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
While the galette is baking, prepare the crème fraîche whipped cream. In a work bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the crème fraîche with the sugar until smooth. Add the heavy cream and vanilla bean extract or paste and whisk until right before the cream hits the soft peaks stage. The resulting whipped cream should be spoonable. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve; whisk a few times before serving. This can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.
Serve warm galette with a dollop of crème fraîche whipped cream.
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