Fall is in full swing, and it’s my favorite season for several reasons. Not only do the leaves change color and introduce stunning shades of yellow, orange, and red to the scenery outside, but the produce available in supermarkets now includes fun, seasonable items: different types of squashes, pumpkin, and fall fruits inspiring bursts of creativity in my kitchen.
Of all the fall goodies to feel excited about, persimmons are my absolute favorite. I grew up eating both types of persimmons (Fuyu and Hachiya), and my dad is very enthusiastic about drying persimmons to snack on. It’s fairly common to see dried Fuyu persimmons topped with powdered sugar eaten as a snack in China, and I certainly had my fill of sugar highs from indulging in one too many per sitting when I was younger. Yep, I’ve had portion-control problems since 1991.
There are two distinctly different types of persimmons. Fuyu persimmons are shaped like beefsteak tomatoes, and textured like apples. They have a slight crunch to them, and are mildly sweet. Hachiya persimmons are teardrop-shaped; when they’re ripe, they’re incredibly sweet and juicy, which makes them perfect for baking. It’s best to avoid eating these before they’re fully ripened, as their sharp taste usually causes an extremely dry mouth as a side effect. When using Hachiya persimmons in recipes, make sure that they’re soft; the persimmon should feel like a water balloon about to burst. To ripen them faster, place them in a brown bag with a banana for a day or two.
I’ve had a craving for muffins lately, and thought it’d be fun to incorporate persimmons into an easy recipe. I am also a huge fan of dried figs (as a snack, or as an ingredient in baking) because they bring a toffee, caramelized flavor when used in baking. For this recipe, I actually experimented with three variations, pairing the batter with Turkish figs, white mulberries, and cranberries. Though all three combinations turned out well, I thought the fig and persimmons pairing was the most delicious by far, so that’s the one I’ll be sharing, but honestly—get creative and replace the dried figs with whatever fruit you want! The beauty of this recipe is that there is room to experiment. The two magical ingredients in this recipe are Fuyu persimmon chunks, and dried figs. While Hachiya persimmons are better for incorporating into batter because they’re juicier and softer, biting into chunks of Fuyu persimmon in the finished muffin is absolutely divine. Dried figs, on the other hand, add a gooey layer of caramelized sweetness to the muffin.
- 2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
- 2 ripe Hachiya persimmons
- 1/2 Fuyu persimmon, chopped into small pieces
- 5 dried figs, chopped into small pieces
- 1/4 cup honey, agave nectar, or rice malt syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pink salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Microwave the Hachiya persimmons, honey, and coconut oil together in a bowl for 30 seconds on high.
- In a large bowl, mix together the microwaved mixture, vanilla extract, pink salt, cinnamon, baking powder. You can use a hand mixer to mix this, or manually mix by hand if you want an arm workout.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature before mixing in the eggs, so the heat from the mixture does not cook the eggs. Popping the mixture in the fridge for 5-10 minutes can speed up the cooling process.
- Taste test your mixture, adding coconut sugar or stevia to sweeten as necessary. I wouldn’t sweeten with a syrup such as honey or agave here, as the mixture will already be extremely moist. As a rule of thumb, batters always taste sweeter than the finished product.
- Add the chopped Fuyu persimmon pieces, and 4 of the 5 figs, to the mixture by hand to preserve their shape and texture.
- Pour the mixture into baking cups, and top with the remaining fig pieces.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes.
When your muffins are finished baking, they will likely be very moist and slightly soggy in the center, so make sure to let them cool for at least 30 minutes. The juices from the Fuyu persimmon pieces seep through the muffin when warm, and it makes for glorious, gooey bites. When eating these muffins after they’ve completely cooled, take the taste to the next level by heating them in the microwave for 10 seconds prior to devouring.