I had some extra pie crust leftover from the date and pecan tarts I made a couple of days ago, and there was no way I was going to let it go to waste. One of the few fruits that are in season around the time of holidays is the persimmon. We have a couple of trees in our garden and they are absolutely laden with beautiful orange fruit. We grow two varieties; Fuyu, which are firm, and Hachiya, which are pulpy and quite a bit sweeter.
It occurred to me that Hachiya persimmon pulp would make a great pie filling, since it’s almost perfect for the job on its own. It makes the dessert super easy to prepare. The only work required is the preparation the Brazil nut crumb topping in advance and assembly right when you're ready to serve.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to get your hands on Hachiya persimmons, definitely give this pie a try. Just make sure you let them ripen fully to avoid "cotton-mouth"!
For the persimmon pulp:
The key to this pie is to select flavorful, ripe fruit, so no sweeteners or artificial flavorings are necessary.
Core and remove the stem end. Using a large spoon, gently dig into the pulp and remove the skin. Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. In a large colander, place the persimmon pulp in a double-layered cheese cloth. Wrap the pulp in the cloth. Make a knot at the tip and suspend it over the colander using chopsticks. The colander is not essential but is quite convenient; if the knot breaks, you can gather the persimmon again in the cheese cloth without starting over. Place a larger bowl underneath the colander to collect as much liquid as possible. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. The juice is delicious.
For the pie crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line 6 (4.75") molds with parchment paper.
Make sure the butter is chilled.
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup flour, salt, 6 tablespoons butter, shortening and 1 teaspoon sugar. Mix using the back of fork (or a stainless-steel pastry blender) until it forms sandy crumbs. Add 1 egg yolk and slowly add cold milk, blending until the dough is barely formed. Do NOT over-mix. Cover with a towel and chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
Once chilled, transfer the dough onto a pastry board lined with a sheet of parchment paper (plastic wrap works fine too). Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough like a sandwich. Roll the dough and even it out. Divide 6 equal pieces.
Top each mold with the disk (or square) of dough. Press the dough against the wall of the mold and remove any excess dough around the edges. Let chill in the freezer until you're ready to use.
Place the pie shells onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. You might want to extend the cooking time by 5 more minutes depending on the size of the molds. Let cool to room temperature.
For the crumb topping:
Make the crumb topping while the pie shells are baking. Using a pastry blender or the back of fork, combine brown sugar, the remaining ½ cup of flour, cinnamon, salt, remaining 2 tablespoons of cold diced butter and chopped Brazil nuts until it forms crumbs of butter, nuts and flour. Do NOT over-mix the dough. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Cover with the crumb topping and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Fill the tart crusts with the persimmon pulp. Top with pieces of crumb topping.
Enjoy with hot tea or pumpkin spiced lattes.
Straining the persimmon pulp prevent the pie from turning soggy too quickly.
When Hachiya persimmons are ripe, they're divine. When they're not, there are few things that taste worse. I remember as a child going to the farmers' market with Papa when Hachiya persimmons were in season. We would buy them by the case. I couldn't wait for them to ripen, but like many things in life, patience was rewarded. We would speed up the process by placing a banana and an apple with the persimmons in a paper bag. Every day, I would come home from school; stick my hand in the bag and check to see if the persimmons were ready. I knew they were ready to eat when they felt as though they would fall apart in my hand.
I used Brazil nuts for the crumb topping; you could use other nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds or even pistachios.
Rolling the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or on 2 silicon mats) eleminates the need for too much flour on the rolling surface, which can change the texture of the dough.