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The mild, sweet flavour of persimmons has grown on me over the past few years. This panna cotta recipe is a subtle dessert for persimmon enthusiasts who appreciate their delicate flavour.

Hachiya persimmons, the tapered, acorn-shaped variety, are inedibly tannic when unripe, so you must let them sit on your counter until the flesh has ripened to a squishy, translucent, jelly-like consistency. Ripe Hachiya flesh is blended into the buttermilk base of this panna cotta, while slices of Fuyu persimmons, which are firmer, are macerated in lemon juice and sugar and served on top.

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 4 hours 30 minutes (includes 4 hours for chilling)

Serves 8

Special equipment:

  • 21.5-cm x 11.5-cm loaf pan
  • blender (handheld or standard)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unflavoured gelatin powder
  • Neutral oil for the pan
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk (300g)
  • 1 cup ripe Hachiya persimmon flesh (240g), scooped from about 2 medium persimmons
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream (300g)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1⁄3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (79g)
  • 2 medium Fuyu persimmons (284g)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Method

  1. Soften the gelatin: Place 3 tablespoons (42g) cold tap water in a small shallow bowl and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the top (do not stir). Set the bowl aside to allow the gelatin to soften, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the pan: Brush the bottom and sides of a 21.5-cm x 11.5-cm loaf pan with a very thin layer of oil, then set aside.
  3. Make the base: In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, Hachiya flesh, lemon zest, and vanilla and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, salt and 1⁄3 cup (65g) sugar and heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring often with a flexible spatula, just until the mixture is steaming and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the buttermilk mixture. Reserve the saucepan.
  4. Melt the gelatin: Scrape the softened gelatin, which will have solidified, into the reserved saucepan (no need to wash it first) and warm over low heat, swirling until it has melted and is translucent with no visible granules, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and scrape into the bowl with the buttermilk mixture.
  5. Potential pitfall: If the gelatin isn’t fully melted, the panna cotta will not set, so be very sure the mixture is free of granules. Don’t let it boil.
  6. Blend and chill the base: Use a handheld blender to blend the buttermilk mixture until smooth. (Alternatively, blend the mixture in a standard blender on medium speed until smooth.) Pour the base into the prepared pan and cover. Refrigerate until the panna cotta is set, at least 4 hours.
  7. Macerate the Fuyu persimmons: About 30 minutes before serving, slice the Fuyu persimmons horizontally into thin rounds (discard the very bottom and the leafy stem end). In a small bowl, toss the slices with the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until coated. Let the slices sit, gently tossing once or twice, until they’re softened and have released their juices, about 20 minutes.
  8. Serve: Just before serving, fill a large bowl with a few centimetres of hot tap water. Remove the pan from the refrigerator, uncover, and lower the bottom and sides into the water for several seconds. Run a knife around the sides of the panna cotta, pressing the knife firmly against the pan, then invert the pan onto a serving platter. Tap the platter on the counter to release the panna cotta (it might take several seconds), then remove the pan. Top the panna cotta with some of the sliced persimmons and their juices. Serve slices of panna cotta with the remaining persimmons on the side.

Can I . . .

  • Make it ahead? Yes. The panna cotta, covered and refrigerated, will keep for up to 3 days, but is best served within the first 2 days.
  • Halve the recipe? Yes. Halve all of the above ingredient quantities and follow the recipe as written. You will have a thinner panna cotta that serves four.
Plate of persimmon panna cotta on a table with orange tablecloth

Images and text from What’s for Dessert by Claire Saffitz, photography by Jenny Huang. Murdoch Books RRP $55.00.

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