The Best Thing to Do With Persimmons is Nothing at All

All this jammy fruit needs is some toasty homemade graham crackers

Graham Cookies
GRAHAM AND BROWN SUGAR COOKIES WITH HACHIYA PERSIMMONS AND CANDIED GINGER
Chewy cookies made with brown sugar and graham flour and strips of candied ginger play background roles in this simple dessert showcasing the Hachiya persimmon’s floral aroma and flavor.Matt Taylor-Gross

While working as a pastry chef in San Francisco years ago, I learned the appeal of serving ripe, in-season fruit with accompaniments like a couple lightly sweetened cookies, a shard or two of nut brittle, or a scoop of sorbet. Instead of a plated dessert that manipulated fruit into a puree, gel, or filling that wasn’t recognizable anymore, often times the best dessert was simply the fruit itself. I resisted this philosophy at first, but as I cooked and tasted more and more of the amazingly vibrant fruits available in the Bay Area, I got the point. Fruit can be a headliner, and I started to take joy in developing the supporting acts, putting into them all that leftover creativity from not having to worry about the fruit.

This dessert is inspired by that time. Ripe Hachiya persimmons were the first fruit where I realized it was better eaten in its pure, raw form than used in any other way. Because of the persimmon’s soft, pudding-like texture (the Hachiya variety needs to feel like a water balloon before it’s ripe; it's too astringent to eat beforehand, whereas the the Fuyu and Sharon Fruit varieties are still firm when ripe), I wanted a sturdy cookie that had character of its own but didn’t take away from the persimmon’s delicate sweetness. These sugar cookies, made with brown sugar instead of granulated white and graham flour instead of all-purpose, get all their nuance from the molasses and wheat germ in the sugar and flour, respectively. The sandy tan cookies perched next to the bright orange persimmons are as colorful as they are delicious. A few matchsticks of julienned candied ginger add a gentle spice to the floral fruit, which by all accounts, needs nothing more to make it shine.