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Persimmon Pudding

This adaptation of a traditional recipe provides softer texture and clearer flavors. Use only ripe hachiya persimmons. You can ripen them in a brown paper bag (this may take a week or more). Although the steps below describe making the recipe by hand, it could also be made in a food processor. Do not attempt to bake the pudding in a smaller dish because the mixture rises to double the height in the oven. The pudding will keep refrigerated for a week.

2 cups pulp from hachiya persimmons
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
11/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup whipping cream
Raw cashews for garnish (optional)

1. Wash and halve hachiya persimmons and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Put in a large bowl with the sugar and salt and use a fork or pastry cutter to mix well.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.

3. Use some of the butter to lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat.

4. Mix the baking soda into the buttermilk and set aside.

5. Beat the egg whites into soft peaks and set aside.

6. Whisk the egg yolks. Stir the egg yolks, buttermilk mixture, melted butter and whipping cream into the fruit pulp. Add the flour mixture by spoonfuls until mixed well. Fold in the egg whites.

7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (The pudding will change color from pale orange to mahogany and will pull away from the sides of the pan.)

8. If using cashews, sprinkle them on the pudding during the last 20 minutes of baking or toast them separately and sprinkle on the pudding before serving.

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