It is a Small World After All

by | Dec 11, 2012 | Dessert, Entertaining, Recipes

Hachiya Persimmon Tree

Tis the season to see Hachiya persimmon trees around northern California looking like their bare branches have purposely been decorated with bright orange ornaments. People often move into homes with persimmon trees growing in the yards and have no idea what to do with the fruit. This happened to our cousin Wendy when she bought our grandparent’s house several years ago. Last year she received a great recipe for a persimmon trifle. Settle in as I tell you the story about how she received the recipe.

My sister Susie attended San Jose State University in the 1970s. While living in the dorms there, she had a roommate named Candace who later in life moved to Chicago.

Fast forward to the early 2000s. Susie was staying with her friends, LouAnne and Lowell, who were living in the caretaker’s cabin on our family’s ranch in the Livermore Hills. One morning Susie walked down the long dirt lane to get the newspaper that was delivered at the bottom of the lane. While she was down there, a car driving by stopped. A young woman got out of the car to introduce herself as Melody, the new neighbor who had recently bought the ranch next to our family’s ranch.

Susie was quite surprised to recognize Melody as someone she had once met in Chicago while visiting Candace. Needless to say, they were both quite surprised to meet again, so far from Chicago, and in such a rural location! Proving once again, that it is a small world. Since that day Melody and her husband, Steve, have attended many of our events at the party barn.

Our cousin Wendy lives about 1/8 of a mile from Melody and Wendy often shares the persimmons that grow at her house with Melody.  For years Wendy has been at a loss as what to do with the persimmons, so Melody shared a persimmon praline trifle recipe with her. Wendy made the trifle for our annual New Year’s Day party and again recently when our cousins from Denmark were visiting. The first time she made it the pralines cooked a bit too long, however, they made a crunchy candy that Wendy chopped up and put into the trifle. I, personally thought the crunchy praline was fabulous in the trifle. Whether the pralines are crunchy or not, the persimmon trifle is very, very good.

Persimmon Trifle

Persimmon Praline Trifle

Ingredients for pralines

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves

Ingredients for trifle

  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 medium wild Hachiya persimmons, very ripe
  • 2 cups cubed pound cake (1/2 inch cubes)

To make the pralines:

Spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine the sugars and half-and-half in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and salt and continue cooking until the mixture reaches 260 degree F on a candy thermometer. Working quickly, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the pecans, then pout out the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it as thin as possible. The mixture will start to harden quickly. Let the pralines cool completely, then chop into 1/4 inch pieces.

For the trifle:

Place the mascarpone, cream, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the rum, and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix on low and increase the speed to medium high. Whip the mixture just until it holds a firm, creamy peak.

Place a medium-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Remove the stem ends from the persimmons. Squeeze the pulp out of the skins. Using a rubber spatula, press the pulp through the strainer. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of puree.

Place one-third of the mascarpone cream in the bottom of the dish, spreading it out to the sides. Top with one-third of the persimmon puree. Sprinkle with half the cake cubes. Brush the cake cubes with 2 tablespoons of the rum. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the praline. Repeat the layers, ending with the mascarpone cream on top, a final drizzle of persimmon puree, and a sprinkling of pralines. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.