Is there ever a time when stealing is okay? Asking for a friend. Okay, okay, I’m that friend. Honestly, I’m currently staring out of my office window at my neighbor’s tree. It’s loaded down with ripe persimmons and this Persimmon-Walnut Muffin recipe is begging to be made with them. But, then I think of how embarrassing it will be to have my face plastered over some crime stoppers site. They’d probably give me some lame alias like, “The Persimmon Pincher.” Our twins won’t get into an Ivy League school. So, I sit here looking at the persimmon tree…coveting them. Consequently, if I stole them, I’d be breaking two of the Ten Commandments. Yeah. Totally not going down that road. The next thing you know, I’ll be selling fois gras out of my trunk in Chinatown.
Since I think I’m too cute to go to the pen, I’ll stick to acquiring my persimmons the old-fashioned way- paying for them. But still coveting.
But, what are they? And why am I willing to start a life of crime for them?
Well, for starters, they’re the national fruit of Japan. Their name means “food of the Gods” in Latin, as well. I was introduced to the persimmon, by my South Korean step-father, as dan gam (sweet persimmon). Here, in the States (or at least in my local Asian market), Fuyu are the most readily available of the persimmons. Another common variety in the States are the Hachiya. While completely edible, I tend to avoid this type of persimmon because I can never get one ripe enough to suit my tastebuds. Hachiya are very astringent when not fully ripened, and I’m very greedy, and impatient, when I want to make these muffins. As a result, I stick with the Fuyu because they taste like a crunchy, honeyed plum when fully ripe. Who wouldn’t love that?
How to tell the difference? Hachiya persimmons are oblong and slightly pointed at their ends. Fuyu’s are short, and squat, and reminiscent of a glossy pumpkin. Can you use Hachiyas in this recipe instead of Fuyus? Yes, yes, you can. Just make sure they are deep orange in color and very soft when pressed with your fingers. Anything less, and you’re bound to get a mouth full of bitterness. I don’t want that for you because you mean so much to me. Fuyu’s are commonly found in Asian markets this time of year…or, on your neighbor’s tree. **look away, Marta, LOOK AWAAAYYYY!!!**
To prepare your persimmons for these muffins, or for eating in general; lop of the thick dried leaves from the top. You can either use a knife’s tip to accomplish this, or pull them right off with your fingers…that is, if you have tough, manly fingers like I do. Give the persimmons a rinse to remove any dirt and they’re ready! If you want to eat them on their own, slice them as you would an apple, or just bite right into them. I choose the latter method because I gangster and don’t need no stinking slices. Really because I don’t like doing dishes…but I can thug it out every once in awhile.
For the purposes of these muffins, however, we need to cut the fruit into chunks for pureeing. To do that, take your chef’s knife and cut the fruit in half. Turn your cut half onto its flat side, and cut it in half down the length of the fruit.
Now, just cut the fruit into sixths, or fourths, depending on how large the persimmon is. Your goal is to cut into chunks that will process smoothly, as fast as possible (for convenience sake).
Throw your persimmon chunks into your blender and pulse a few times to break them down.
Now, crank up the speed, and puree until the persimmons are very smooth- about 1-2 minutes on the puree setting. Don’t bother transferring to another bowl, just yet- no need to make more dishes than necessary (#thuglife). Just set the pureed mixture to the side while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
Now, I talk a lot about the importance of over-handling muffin and quick bread batters here and here. Suffice it to say, improper mixing of dry ingredients before the addition of the mixed wet ingredients causes a lot of holey muffins. “Tunneling” is the culinary term for it, and it causes your muffins to be very tough, dense, and demonic…okay, that’s a stretch. Not demonic, but not good, either. You always want to mix together your dry ingredients (minus the sugar) prior to adding them to your wet ingredients. The least amount of time you’re working the flour, by stirring or whisking, the better; as there’s less chance of an over-development of the gluten strands which causes that tough, chewy, bite.
To start with, combine your sifted flour, leavening agents, salt, and spices. Whisk them together until everything looks blended.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and the oil. Whisking these two together, coats the sugar crystals in a fat that will begin to dissolve the sugar crystals. You’re not looking for the same result as when you cream together butter and sugar, however. This is a precursor to getting all of your wet ingredients mixed prior to combining them with the dry. Eggs are another way we leaven products in the kitchen; they also double as a tenderizer. Using the same whisk we used earlier, whisk the eggs into the sugar/oil mixture. Then, add the vanilla extract.
Now we fold the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix the least amount of time possible to avoid the dreading toughness. Add the chopped walnuts and give it three more folds to incorporate them.
Scoop your muffin batter into your prepared muffin tin using a #16 (or 2 oz) portion scoop. If you don’t have a portion scoop, you can also use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop into your greased muffin tin. Now, just pop your tin into your preheated oven for 18-22 minutes and bake. Your muffins are done when the top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before de-panning and cooling on a wire rack, or enjoying them right away.
I just want to clarify: I was totally going to share the persimmons, I wanted (but didn’t) to pinch, with my neighbor. She would totally love a batch of these muffins, don’t you think? I’ll keep you posted on what becomes of the plentiful persimmon problem. In the meantime, pin this recipe for later and let me know what you think: Is it stealing if she benefits from my theft? (never mind, I already know it is!)
Yield 1 dozen
Use ripe fuyu persimmons for best results.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pureed persimmon (about 4 medium persimmons)
1 cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a muffin pan with non-stick baking spray (you can also line with baking cups if you prefer, but it's not necessary).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine the oil and brown sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar slightly. Add the eggs, and the extract, and whisk well.
- Now, add the wet ingredients to the bowl containing the dry ingredients and, using a large rubber spatula, fold in the wet ingredients just until the mixture is smooth and no flour is visible.
- Add the walnuts and give the batter three more folds to incorporate.
- Scoop the batter into your muffin pan using a 2oz portion scoop (or 1/4 cup measuring cup). Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the muffin tops spring back when lightly pressed.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before de-panning; then, enjoy!
- These muffins freeze very well for up to two months. Simply pack in a freezer storage bag after cooling completely.
Try out some of my other muffin recipes: