It was recently brought to my attention that many of my daily activities are conducted in a state of “auto-pilot”. Wake up, workout (while still half asleep), take a shower, make some coffee, drive to work, etc., etc. Even while doing yoga, I find myself fixated on how close I am to the end, dreading all those Sun Salutations, unable to take my mind off when I’ll finally be able to plop into that final pose, Savasana (not ironically a term translated to mean ‘corpse pose’). Perhaps the same can be said of most people, but I’ve suddenly realized that my robotic way of moving through life at times, seriously hinders my ability to learn new things. Maybe this is getting too philosophical and I should just tell you about these cookies.
But no, I’d like you to hear me out: despite what you might think, this actually does have to do with cookies – and cooking in general. I’ve always been ashamed of the fact that I’ve never been able to experiment in the kitchen. It’s just that I am so deathly afraid of (gasp) messing up, that I think I’d literally have a panic attack if someone tried to pry a recipe out of my clutches and told me to “trust my instincts and have fun”. Absurd, no? One might say that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Who knew? (None of my family may comment on this post.)
In any case, as I was gearing up to make some delicious-sounding Persimmon Spice Cookies I recently read about on one of my favorite food blogs, “Eat, Live, Run”, I thought I’d put in an extra two minutes to study the recipe before beginning. Not only that, but I actually whipped out my newly purchased cookbook from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food to get her take on cookie-making. Consulting more than one source and taking a bit more time to ensure I had an adequate understanding? This is so unlike me, people. I expect instant and positive results with minimal effort. Oops…I think I just ratted myself out.
I wish I could tell you that I’m new to baking cookies and that’s the reason why what I’m about to tell you came as a surprise to me – but I’m not. Like most people, I’ve been baking cookies since I was just a youngin’. Chocolate chip cookies, “Koulourakia” cookies; traditional Greek butter cookies that usually come around at Easter time, even peanut butter cookies. And yet, due to my “git ‘er done” mentality and because really paying attention would require 10 extra seconds and therefore a bit more effort, I haven’t really learned the art of baking cookies. So you can imagine my surprise to have learned that most cookie recipes are made using the same basic formula: cream together butter and sugar, stir in an egg for moisture, and add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and whatever other spices you like) at the end. Friggin’ groundbreaking, I tell you. It was almost as if Alice Waters herself was explaining this concept to me, calmly, slowly and deliberately; “So you mean to tell me that I can make ANY kind of cookie I want using this method?!” I heard myself say aloud. And suddenly, I was freed from my recipe bondage…at least when it comes to baking cookies.
Speaking of cookies, these ones are great. They’ll fill your house with the scent of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves – a combination of spices that never fail to make me giddy with excitement that the holidays are ’round the bend. They also have a moist, cake-like texture and so for that reason, are best consumed the same or next day after baking. My advice would be to bake them just before a holiday party or get-together, when you know they’ll be gobbled up quickly.
Also, keep in mind when purchasing your persimmons that there are two varieties: Hachiya and Fuyu. Although they may sound like two characters out of the movie Kung Fu Panda, it’s important that you choose the Hachiya variety for this recipe. They are much softer and less squat than the Fuyu – so soft, in fact, that you might worry that they’re about to go bad. Don’t. They’re supposed to be eaten just like that. Here’s a picture of both varietals so that you can see the difference. Hachiya is on the left and Fuyu is on the right.
So the lesson for today is to take a little extra time to stop and smell the roses once in a while; you might even surprise yourself by learning something new.
Persimmon Spice Cookies
Adapated from Eat, Live, Run
(Makes about two dozen cookies)
1 cup persimmon pulp (about two Hachiya persimmons)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Wash persimmons and remove stems; scoop out pulp and puree in a
food processor until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves and salt.
4) Cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Add the persimmon pulp and mix.
5) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, being careful not to over-stir. Add the walnuts and mix until just combined.
6) Scoop large spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.