Thus, inspired by the success of my previous work with them in my Crispy Duck with Persimmon-Mandarin Sauce, I moved from the main course to almost everyone’s favourite course, the dessert course.
Here’s a devilishly simple dessert that will be sure to delight while at the same time it leaves your diners wondering what is that delicious topping they can’t quite seem to place. Best of all, this is something that can be assembled well ahead of your dinner plans, which makes entertaining super easy.
The keys to this dessert are threefold. First, look for ripe persimmons. The juicier the better to make a fruit ‘curd’ that isn’t too thick. In this context, a ‘curd’ is a like a custard, but ultimately different (the most famous ‘curd’ is that used in lemon-meringue pie). My goal here, however, isn’t for a beautiful smooth filling but rather for a more ‘rustic’ curd because in addition to the fruit juice, I’m using the whole persimmon, including the skin and internal pulp. One thing I’m learning while cooking with persimmons is that they seem to very high in natural pectin, like apples, and quite high fiber (like apples) but they are very low in acid (unlike apples). The result is that they seem to naturally thicken more than most fruit, so be prepared to add a little extra juice at the end if it needs ‘thinning’ … and a bit of lemon juice to impart some acid, critical to balance with the butterfat in the mascarpone cream.
As I describe in my previous persimmon recipe, persimmons need (absolutely need) to be soft to eat. Have you ever eaten a green banana or bitten into the green peel to open the skin? That’s what a unripe persimmon will do to your mouth. Ripe, however, it’s sweeter than a ripe peach and just as soft on the lips. Quite prized is the sweeter Fuyu variety which you’ll notice in your grocery store as the squatter and flatter of the persimmon varieties, as seen here.
Second is the simple Mascarpone-Cream that layers the parfait. You could use just whipped cream but I find the mascarpone adds a nice ‘weight’ to the cream, while adding a depth of flavour that makes it taste more like a dessert than just a whipped topping. The shot of Grand Marnier in adds a bit of orange flavour that remarkably ties the whole thing together.
Finally, the gingersnaps. Yes, I’m going to shamelessly plug that you use my previously posted recipe for Triple Gingersnaps. I actually created those gingersnaps and this recipe with this dessert in mind (and because I couldn’t find gluten-free cookies in the store.) Not only does the recipe allow you to make this a totally gluten-free dessert, the extra ginger is one of the things that elevates this dessert and which works beautifully with the cream and persimmon curd. Simply bake the cookies a little longer (as in the picture above) so they are totally crisp when you ‘snap’ them into the parfait. If using commercial cookies, however, keep in mind they tend to be smaller so you might need a few extras.
The ‘rest’ in the preparation is actually to allow the gingersnaps to absorb liquid from the surrounding filling, but, if you prefer, serve this immediately after spooning it in for some textural incongruence. This parfait keeps well in the fridge for a number of hours or even overnight … just take it out of the fridge an hour before serving to allow things to loosen up a bit and remember: la dolche vita.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Rest time: 2 hours (minimum)
Total time: 45 minutes, plus rest
Servings: 4-6 glasses depending on size
Persimmon Parfait with Mascarpone-Cream & Gingersnap Crumble
- 2 Fuyu persimmons, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/4 cup juice (any of apple, peach, pear, or mango), divided
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup icing (confectioner’s sugar)
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, whipped smooth in a bowl
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur
- 4-8 gingersnaps (recipe here)
- Place stainless mixing bowl in freezer (for the whipped cream). Remove the tops of the persimmon and quarter and remove the tougher core before roughly chopping the fruit.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the chopped persimmons and 2 tablespoons of juice to the pot, and let simmer for 10 minutes…
… until persimmons have cooked down and you can mash them.
- Add mash to a small food processor or blender and add the sugar and remaining fruit juice plus the lemon juice, and blend until smooth.
Return to persimmon puree to the saucepan and begin to warm it up again.
Meanwhile, separate the egg yolks from the whites, and beat the egg yolks smooth. Then, gradually whisk the yolks into the persimmon curd and, over low heat, continually whisk and cook for roughly 5 minutes until the curd has thickened.
Remove from heat and let cool. To speed this up, put it doors (away from snooping squirrels) or in your fridge while you prepare the cream. The optimal temperature for this is “warm” (not cold or hot).
→ As noted in the cooking tips above, if, when cool, you find your curd too thick, simply add another tablespoon or two of fruit juice until desired consistency is reached.
- Meanwhile, prepare your whipped cream. Remove mixing bowl from freezer and pour in the whipping cream. If using a standup mixer, beat on high for roughly 5 minutes until peaks start to form. Fold in the already whipped mascarpone cheese and the Grand Marnier then further beat another minute until everything is well-incorporated and smooth.
- Prepare your parfait glasses or serving dishes. Small wine glasses (vs. crystal) work well, but use whatever you have on hand. You can assemble the parfait in any order you want, but I personally layered in a few tablespoons of mascarpone cream, followed by a few tablespoons of persimmon curd, followed by a crumbled gingersnap (or two) — but you could certainly start with the curd on the bottom followed by cream …
… top with more cream, either way, and finish with another couple of dollops of curd on the top to finish, and voila … a simple parfait that is sure to please.