Friday, December 29, 2006

Persimmon Bars With Creme Fraiche

It has become a Christmas Eve tradition at our house to have a large pot of andouille sausage, chicken & prawn soup on the stove (recipe coming), a hearty loaf of locally made artisan bread ready to butter and an easily hand-held "something" for dessert.

This makes serving a hot meal to those who arrive at different times of the day and evening easy. No formal sit-down dinner, any of the food items can be held in a lap or set on a counter to eat while talking and catching up with precious company.

Over the next days, I'll be posting many of the recipes prepared over the Christmas weekend, beginning with Christmas Eve.

And since life is short, as my dear friend George used to say, I'll begin with dessert.

These persimmon bars have been adapted from a recipe I found on Epicurious. By replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and the sugar with Splenda granular, I've come up with a lower carb, higher fiber snack. The lemon glaze was omitted; a spoonful of home made creme fraiche offered instead.

Persimmon Bars
Adapted from Epicurious

1 1/2 cups persimmon pulp (from 3-4 very ripe persimmons)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur brand)
1 teaspoon salt (scant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large egg
1 cup Splenda granular
1/2 cup light vegetable oil
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a large baking pan (I used a 9x13-inch pan), then add several spoonsfuls of flour, turning the pan until the butter is coated with the flour. Tapping the pan, remove the excess flour.
After cutting away the stem and seeds from the persimmons, peel them and drop the very juicy pulp into a mesh strainer that has been placed over a bowl.
Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, mash the pulp through the strainer, discarding any fibers and seeds that remain.
Stir the lemon juice and baking soda into the puree and set aside. (The puree will foam and then jell slightly.
Sift the flours, salt and spices together in another small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg, Splenda, oil and raisins until just combined. Add the flour mixture and the persimmon mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
Stir in the walnuts.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for at least 20 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool completely on a rack, cut into 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch squares and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche.