Persimmon and Hazelnut Tart

My friend, Liz, has a persimmon tree in her backyard, and around this time of year, it starts producing boatloads of fruit. There are clusters of orange persimmons crowding out the branches, falling on to the grass below, and lining her kitchen counter top. Last month, she was eager to be rid of them and started handing them out to all of her friends.

I agreed to take four of them, but wasn't sure exactly how I would use them. Persimmon cookies seemed too boring; persimmon pudding or bread sounded good, yet neither were really calling out to me. Finally, I came upon a recipe for Hazelnut Plum Crumb Tart  on the Smitten Kitchen food blog, and alas, my moment of inspiration struck. I followed the recipe almost entirely, but I baked it in a pie plate instead of a spring form cake pan. Then, I substituted persimmons for plums, and took out half a cube of butter and a few tablespoons of sugar, as I generally have want to do. If you've never tried slightly reducing the amount of butter and sugar you put in baked goods, go ahead and try it some time--I dare you! Prior experience tells me that you likely won't even miss it.

Also, if you're wondering where on earth you can find raw hazelnuts, look no further than your neighborhood Trader Joe's. It's yet another new TJ's product that I'm quite happy about.

Otherwise, you can substitute pecans, as this is a rather versatile recipe. For example, if you don't have persimmons, you can try using apples or pears or whatever other fruit your heart desires. If you come up with any winning combinations, please be sure to tell us about them in the comment box below :)

Happy baking!

Persimmon and Hazelnut Tart

Crust and Crumb Topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

4 ripe persimmons, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yoke
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
a few pinches of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 10-15 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes and then remove their skins. Once they have cooled, the skin should slide right off.

Next, grind the nuts up into a paste with either a food processor, or a coffee grinder. Transfer the paste to a large mixing bowl and add all of the dry ingredients for the crust. Mix well, and then use a knife to cut in the chilled butter. Use an electric mixer on low speed in order to make sure everything is evenly combined. Then spread about 3 cups worth of the crumb mixture on to the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate. There should be about 1 cup left to use for the crumb topping, and you can just set that aside for now.

Place the pie crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Let it cool in the freezer while you make the persimmon filling.

Use a vegetable peeler to take the skin off the persimmons, then slice them thinly and dump them inside the cooled pie crust.

Get out a medium-sized bowl and combine all of the remaining ingredients from the filling section. Pour that mixture on top of the persimmons.

Then take the remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle it evenly on top.

Bake the persimmon tart for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling is set and the outside is a nice golden brown. Let it cool for at least 25 minutes before serving, and enjoy it the next day, either warm or chilled.