Thursday, December 10, 2009

(Belated) Advent Calendar 8 Dec: Christmas Cookies

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

There are several cookies which I equate with Christmas but none more so than persimmon cookies. 

I don't really know which came first, the persimmon tree in my front yard growing up or my great-grandmother's recipe but I'm betting it was the recipe.  When people found out that my parents bought a house with a persimmon tree in their yard they somehow felt the need to pass along every persimmon related recipe and really, when you have a persimmon tree there isn't much else you can do with the fruit but make deserts out of it (I've always thought of persimmons like lemons, not a fruit you would bite directly into but one you would put in things as an ingredient).  The tree we had was of the Japanese variety and not the firmer, smaller regular persimmon type so I have no idea if the persimmon cookie recipe below would work for any persimmons other than the Japanese type.  I would try and get the Japanese variety if you wanted to make something with persimmons if only because I think the Japanese persimmons have much more flavor and natural sweetness to them.  The only recollection I have of eating persimmons is in sweets and it was always around Christmas time when they were ripe (I think they have a summer season too, but we never bothered to pick them in the summer).  My father usually made these around Christmas, but my mother would too occasionally and I suppose (since the recipe comes from her) my great-grandmother did too.  They are hard to describe and, I think, they are one of the more unique cookies out there.  They have a definite persimmon taste but even if you don't care for persimmons (like me) you'll like the cookie.  Here is the traditional recipe in my family, but there are a lot more out there including this one from Good Day Sacramento which I recently came across and plan to try:

Grandma Shinn's Persimmon Cookies
1 c. pulp of persimmon (approx. 2 very ripe persimmons)
1 tsp. (baking) soda mixed in pulp
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 c. walnuts (no one in my family likes nuts in our deserts so we usually leave these out)
1 c. raisins
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut flour and shortening together well and add sugars.  Mix well and then add the egg (beaten), chopped walnuts and raisins (mashed if desired).  Then add the spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt) and mix together.  Mix the persimmon pulp and soda and let set for a short time so they jell but not too much.  Then add the persimmon pulp and soda to the rest of the ingredients and blend with an electric mixer well.  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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