Persimmon, Apple and Date Cookies

A show of hands from those that grew up in Indiana please?? Ah, there you are. I bet you know just what I'm talking about, as any good Hoosier would, when I say persimmon pudding is one of Indiana's tastiest claim's to fame. Although I'm not from Indiana,we have long-time family friends that grew up in Indiana and introduced me to persimmon pudding. It's a steamed pudding "cake" loaded with rich, warm spices, nuts, raisins and persimmon pulp from the persimmons that grow abundantly in Indiana and ripen just in time for Thanksgiving. To top it off, a nice dollop of brandy spiked whipped cream is traditional. Wanting to roll all of this goodness into something my kids would love (steamed pudding equals wet bread to them), I came up with this cookie that is moist, but just right, and added some of my favorites - dates and candied ginger.

Persimmon, Apple and Date Cookies

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1 cup persimmon puree from about 4 very ripe Hachiya persimmons

2 cups unsweetened applesauce

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

3 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 cup chopped, pitted Medjool dates

2 cups walnuts, chopped coarse

1/3 cup candied ginger, minced

Use a hand-held or standing mixer on medium speed to cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy; add eggs.

Trim the tops from persimmons, cut into quarters and discard any seeds you might find. Run a paring knife between the flesh and skin to remove the skin. It should come away quite easily. Remember, the Hachiya variety is an astringent persimmon. Even though it is ripe, it will still give you that strange astringent experience on your tongue, like someone vacuumed all of the moisture out of your mouth. Pur e the persimmon in a blender until smooth, add the apple sauce , blend to mix and then put it into the mixing bowl with the eggs, butter and sugar. Add in the flour, baking soda and spices. Mix on low, scraping the bowl down once or twice to make sure the batter is completely mixed. Fold in the dates, walnuts and candied ginger.

Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Drop and evenly space large spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets. I swear by Silpat or another silicone baking mat for ease of clean up and perfect cookies. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack. They are delicious warm!