Persimmons are a delightful treat during the winter season. The Fuyu Japanese varietal of persimmon looks like a pumpkin shaped orange tomato, however the flavor is very sweet and slightly tangy with a crunchy to soft texture depending on how long you allow the fruit to ripen. Persimmons can be eaten raw and when they are ripe they are perfect for a persimmon honey ginger tart filled with custard!
Puff Pastry Tart Shells
Puff pastry is a quick and easy way to make delicate and crunchy tarts. You can find them in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie cutter, create a 4 inch bottom layer, then poke several holes into the dough to prevent the dough from rising too much as it bakes. For the top layer, cut a 4 inch round, then using a 3″ round, cut a hole out of the center of the 4″ round. Transfer the cut out shells to your baking sheets. Brush the puff pastry with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water). Bake the puff pastry shells until puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Custard Filling aka Pastry Cream
Custard cream is my absolute favorite filling for any cake or pastry! To make the custard filling for the tarts, heat milk in a medium saucepan with vanilla bean. When the milk reached 90°F/ 32°C, stir in 3 ounces (120g) of sugar. Allow the milk to come to a boil (simmer and bubble around the edges). In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining sugar with the cornstarch. Place the egg yolk in a separate bowl and add the cornstarch and sugar mixture. Whisk thoroughly to combine, leaving no residual cornstarch.
In the bowl containing the egg mixture, temper the egg yolk mixture with the hot milk.
Return the egg mixture to the pan and cook, whisking vigorously until the cream boils and is well thickened.
The custard should not have residual starch flavor, so make sure to taste the custard during the cooking and thickening to ensure the starch is fully cooked. The custard should be rich, thick, sweet and aromatic from the vanilla beans. Remove the filling from the heat and chill over an ice bath. Once cooled, transfer the cool custard to a bowl of pastry bag, cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use. When cooled, fill each tart shell with a generous amount of custard filling.
Persimmon’s are ready to eat when the outside shell is slightly soft when you press the skin. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten raw, so you can enjoy the fruit either crunchy or soft in texture. However, the more time the persimmon has to ripen the sweeter and more honey-like the flavor.
To prepare the persimmon slices, cut the fruit into quarters, then remove the skin from the fruit. Thinly slice the persimmons to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch wedges.
Arrange the persimmon slices into a cylindrical fan on top of the custard filling.
Honey Ginger Glaze
In a small saucepan, steep ginger in the water and honey mixture over medium low heat, until the mixture reduces by half (1/8 cup). The glaze should be slightly thinner than the honey so that it can be easily brushed on top of the persimmons, yet sticks to the fruit. Generously glaze the persimmon slices with the warmed honey ginger glaze.
The honey and ginger glaze enhances the natural sweet characteristics of the persimmon and the custard cream filling provides a nice contrast in texture to the delicate, flaky and crunchy puff pastry tart shell.
The persimmon honey ginger tart is a simple and elegant dessert for the winter season!
If you like working with Puff Pastry and are looking for something else sweet & delicious, check out my French Palmier Cookie Recipe. Otherwise if you simply enjoy the persimmon fruit, check out my Permission Cookie Recipe.
TIP #1 - Puff pastry is essentially layers of dough and butter, which has been rolled and folded several times to create multiple layers, this labor intensive process is called “lamination”. The end result is a beautiful flaky pastry with hundreds of delicate and beautiful layers.
TIP #2 – When cutting the puff pastry into shapes, make sure to not crimp or smash the puff pastry dough with your cutters or knife. This prevent the layers of butter and dough from rising and separating during baking. For example, if using round biscuit cutter, press the cutter straight down, then lift up; if you press down and turn the cutter, the layers will be destroyed.