Chilli, Ginger and Persimmon Tarts
Recently my mysterious fruity godmother (or is it secret admirer?) sent me a tray of beautiful Spanish Persimon. Well what can you do with such a gift other than create some fiery and joyous persimmon tarts?
Also known as Sharon Fruit, from an Israeli variety bred on the Sharon Plain, this is a fruit that goes back a long way in European history. A European species was known as the divine fruit in ancient Greece as it was much loved by the Gods and was the source of the lotus eating legend. Persimmons are now cultivated in many parts of the world. They are available here in the UK between October and January.
I was a little stumped at first as they are not something I’m particularly familiar with. I’ve tried the odd one over the years, but they’ve always been either under ripe and horribly astringent or have gone off before becoming edible. Persimmons it seems, come in two varieties. Hachiya has a high tannin content that makes it incredibly astringent unless fully ripe and very soft; these were the ones I have tried so unsuccessfully in the past. I understand when in the right condition, they are in fact the most delicious. Fuyu is more versatile. It has less tannins and is edible when firm as well as when soft and pulpy. It was the Fuyu variety that I received.
Pleasantly free of pips and stones, the flavour is a a bit like a cross between a mango and a melon I found; CT favoured the mango comparison for both colour and taste. He thought it was nice to be able to grow a temperate substitute for such a great tropical fruit. Once I got to grips with these persimmons, I made all sorts of plans on how to use them. However, it turned out that they were excellent just as they were and like the lotus eaters of old, once started we couldn’t stop. We ate them whole with the skin on whilst firm or peeled and sliced them on top of our muesli. I will no longer be hesitant about buying these delightful fruit in the future.
Luckily, I managed to save a few to play with. I left them to go soft so I could easily scoop out the pulp and use it in baking. I also had some hot, hot, hot chilli white chocolate made with the fierce naga chilli; this even left me, chilli fiend that I am, defeated. It had been lurking around in my cupboards waiting for just the right opportunity. This I felt was it: carpe chilliem. I would create some persimmon tarts by making chilli white chocolate pastry and filling it with a gingery persimmon custard.
I was recently sent a pack of Taylor & Colledge vanilla products, which I will be reviewing shortly. One of the items was an innovative vanilla bean grinder, which I have fallen in love with. Freshly ground vanilla beans would, I mused, finish my tarts off very nicely. And they did.
I am super excited about the new white chocolate pastry I have invented, which we both considered to be a great success. I meant to use my usual half wholemeal, half white mix, but I was daydreaming and most unusually for me, I ended up using all white flour before I realised what I was doing.
The finished persimmon tarts were delicious warm and delicious cold. CT described them, in between licking his lips, as souped up custard tarts. The pastry was crisp with not a soggy bottom in sight. The chilli was more than just a background note, but not too fierce to eat – more of a warmth that kept growing as the tart was consumed. I never really saw the point of adding ginger to chilli until I tried it, but now it’s a firm favourite and the two flavours married well in this tart. The mango / persimmon flavour came through nicely. It was all rounded off by the fragrant vanillary top which added a certain tropical sophistication to this artisan confection made in Cornwall, where the climate is anything but tropical.
- 150g plain flour
- 75g unsalted butter
- 25g chilli flavoured white chocolate
- 2 very ripe persimmons
- 2 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- a pinch rock salt
- Pour the flour into a bowl. Grate in the chocolate. Add the butter and cut into small pieces with a knife. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Add enough water to just form a ball of dough – about 3 tbsp. Stir and form into a ball with hands.
- Roll out on a floured surface to about ⅛ cm. Cut rounds to fill 8x10cm tart tins. Place in the fridge to cool whilst getting on with the filling.
- Scoop out the flesh from the persimmon’s which should already be soft and pulpy. Blend it to ensure it’s completely smooth (I used a stick blender).
- Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a balloon whisk. Add the cream and sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the salt, ginger, lemon juice and persimmon pulp and whisk again until incorporated.
- Spoon the filling into the 8 cases, filling them to the top. Grate a little vanilla over the top of each one.
- Bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling has set.
There is a new blogging event which I’m hoping to be a regular participant in, The Spice Trail from Vanesther of Bangers & Mash. As the name suggests a different spice will be chosen each month and this month it is chilli – hooray! These chilli persimmon tarts are just the thing.
One of these persimmon tarts is also being sent over to Javelin Warrior’s for Made with Love Mondays where everything has to be made from scratch – sort of!