The other day, while my husband was outside raking leaves, our next door neighbor handed him a huge bundle of persimmons from his tree. When he brought them inside, I immediately began coming up with things I might be able to do with them. I fell in love with the idea of a steamed pudding baked in an antique mold, but decided against it once I realized the dessert would take almost three hours to finish (truth be told, I am not the most patient of bakers). The more I searched for recipes, the more I realized that persimmons are not the most popular of fruit to bake with. It seems that there is only a small handful of recipes that are changed slightly and used all over the place: persimmon bread, persimmon cookies, and the pudding, none of which I was very keen on making. What was I to do? They were just too pretty to not use in something.
Thankfully, ole' Martha Stewart had the answer, and a very simple one at that. Tucked within the pages of her classic cookbook, I found the recipe for these Persimmon Tartlets baked with puff pastry (something I always seem to have in my freezer these days) and filled with either lemon curd or persimmon cream. They sound and look quite fancy, but are extremely easy to quickly whip up. This happens to be yet another one of those recipes that is very versatile. The cream filling can easily be whipped with smushed berries or finely chopped chocolate and topped with the fruit of your choice. Also, feel free to experiment with different sizes: go ahead and make teeny bite-sized ones or a full-size tart. Just adjust your baking time accordingly.
Persimmon Tartlets with Cream Filling: adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook
1/2 pound puff pastry, chilled
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
1/2 cup lemon curd or pureed persimmons
2 unbruised but ripe persimmons, cut lengthwise into slices 1/8" thick (instead of regular slices, Alice cut thin slices into shapes with a fondant cutter- a small cookie cutter would also work for this)
Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a large biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, cut 8 rounds of pastry. Then using a 3 1/2-inch ring or a smaller glass, cut 4 of the rounds into smaller rounds, centering the ring so that an even rim is produced. Paste the rims onto the larger rounds at the outside edge with a bit of water, carefully aligning the edges; this forms a raised border on the tartlet. Place the pastry on a parchment-lined or water-sprayed baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick the bottom of each pastry, line only the bottom with foil (I just cut tiny circles and fit them to the inner circle) and weight with dried beans or pie weights, being careful not to weight the edges. Bake the rounds for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until they are puffed and golden. Remove the liner and weights and let cool completely on a rack before filling.
Whip the cream to soft peaks and gently fold in the lemon curd or persimmon puree. Mound or pipe the mixture into each tartlet shell. Top each with a slice or two (or three!) of persimmon, and serve immediately.