Monday, November 25, 2013

Soft Persimmon Cookies with Raisins and Walnuts

At the beginning of the month, Emma and I traveled out to Orange County to visit my paternal grandmother (and Emma's great-grandmother!). I had been eager to visit Grandma and introduce her to her first great-granddaughter for quite some time. When my Dad informed me that he had booked a flight to visit, I quickly booked myself a seat on the same flights so we could travel and spend the week with her together.

Traveling is a BREEZE when Mom is doing all the heavy lifting for ya!

The outbound trip to the OC did not go as smoothly as planned. After being delayed during the first leg of our trip due to engine trouble, we missed our connection in Atlanta. Delta Airlines graciously put us up in a nearby hotel overnight and provided a few vouchers for food. Upon arrival at the hotel, I discovered that my room smelled of urine and could not help noticing the dirty floors, trash-lined hallways, and bug-infested window panes. Delta sure went out of there way to make us feel comfortable. I was pretty afraid that the mattress might be infested with bed bugs and decided that I might be better off sleeping in the armchair. However, the armchair was covered in some questionable stains so I decided that the bed might not be so bad. It didn't really matter because Emma did not want to sleep and fussed all night long. I spent the majority of the night bouncing her while watching some old movies on TCM, including a really strange Burt Lancaster film where he ran around in a bathing suit the whole time while trying to swim in other people's pools (it was bizarre).

Bright and early the next morning, we departed for the OC without a hitch. Until it came time to pick up the rental car. My poor Dad had to stand in line for about an hour because the computer system was down and the rental car agencies were taking down everyone's information by hand, making the whole rental process painstakingly lengthy. Eventually we got our car and made the drive to Grandma's house.

Emma and Great-Grandma Korson

The rest of the trip went smoothly. We enjoyed some wonderful time with Grandma and my various Aunts and Uncles in the area. I was even able to sneak in a visit with my hubby's twin who drove up from his little corner of Los Angeles to spend the day with Emma and Me. My Dad and I never spent a single minute hungry since there was a never-ending supply of treats, snacks, and meals at Grandma's house. I ate way too many pieces of pie, larger-than-life cinnamon rolls, cookies, and bread. We were spoiled. Emma too joined in on all the eating. She tried a bunch of food for the first time - bananas, biscuits, sour cream (she practically dived into it head-first at a Mexican restaurant), chips, Corn Pops, persimmons, raisins, and Biscoff cookies. During one of our dinners, I handed Emma off to Uncle Steve and then checked in on her a couple minutes later only to find her sitting on his lap while gnawing on a chicken wing (and liking it!).

Emma loved meeting her Great-Grandma. She even let Grandma rock her to sleep a couple of times - and trust me, that baby is not easy to get to sleep! She loved being the center of attention and was always willing to show off her toothless grin to anyone and everyone!

Our visit would not have been complete without a visit to see Grandpa and Uncle Paul at the Veteran's Cemetery.
We never would have found his grave if it weren't for Peter and his smartphone!

When it was finally time for us to leave, Grandma insisted that we take some persimmons and oranges back with us. I was so excited to receive so many persimmons from Grandma's trees (we picked about 50 to take back with us). It was a bit of a challenge finding room in our luggage for all that fresh fruit (not to mention trying to keep within the weight limit) but luckily we improvised with a lot of cramming into various pockets, diaper bags, and purses - eventually managing to carry on about 20 pounds of fruit with us. We surprisingly only had one casualty - a rogue persimmon was squashed to death in the bottom of my suitcase. Luckily, the mess was minimal and the remaining persimmons were relatively unblemished.

For those unfamiliar with this amazing fruit, let me explain what exactly are persimmons. Persimmons are a fruit commonly found in California. While there are several varieties, the most common is the Hachiya and the Fuyu. They vary in color from a reddish to bright orange and kind of resemble a tomato with a flower on top. The Fuyu is short, squat, non-astringent variety and thus can be eaten while firm by being cut and sliced like an apple. It is also excellent for use in salads. The Hachiya persimmon is a tear-drop shaped, astringent variety that must be fully ripened before eating or else it will lend a "furry" feel to the mouth of the consumer. Fully ripe Hachiya persimmons feel like a water balloon when squeezed since the pulp within the skin becomes very gelatinous during the ripening process. The pulp is very, very sweet and delicately flavored. I also enjoy eating the skins since they taste like candy when fully ripened! To use a Hachiya persimmons, the top is simply sliced off and the pulp is scooped out with a spoon for use in baking. My Grandmother grows Hachiya persimmons and they are by far my favorite of the two common persimmon varieties. 

While growing up, Grandma would often send us a package around Christmas with tins full of these persimmon cookies. To a certain extent, Christmas is not complete until I have eaten one of these. Their sweet flavor and soft texture transport me back to my childhood and remind me of the anticipation and excitement that I felt during the Christmas season. I baked a batch of these for Paul during our first Christmas together and he is so glad that I introduced him to persimmons and this family recipe for persimmon cookies. If you have the opportunity to get your hands on some persimmons, try baking a batch of these. They will be a welcome addition to the holiday cookie tray!

Soft Persimmon Cookies with Raisins and Walnuts
adapted slightly from a recipe given to me by my Grandma

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup persimmon pulp (from fully ripened Hachiya persimmons)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in persimmon pulp, egg, and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture and stir just until everything is combined. Fold in the walnuts and raisins.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls (I like to keep them pretty small) onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes (it will depend on how large you made the cookies) or until cookies are brown around the edges and set. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


  1. "She even let Grandma rock her to sleep a couple of times - and trust me, that baby is not easy to get to sleep

    Your Grandma has that special touch that only comes from years of experience.

  2. I admire you flying with a baby! I'm terrified to fly with Luke!!

  3. Believe me, I'm actually a bit used to it by now! I've flown many times with Matthew and he was a much more difficult baby than Emma. Emma handled it like a pro and was pretty easy going on every flight!