Yesterday, I shared a recipe that left me with 2 egg whites without plans. I also had a persimmon on the counter in need of being used, so……I got out the port of course.
Persimmons are from the Diospyros family of plants, another “food of the gods”. They are best left until the first frost before harvesting and if eaten too soon, will pucker your cheeks and alliviate any interest in ever trying them again.
Almanac.com suggests using locally grown persimmon seeds to predict the local winter weather. Using fruit grown elsewhere kind of defeats the purpose. Open the fruit and cut a seed in half.
“If the kernel is spoon-shaped, lots of heavy, wet snow will fall. Spoon = shovel!
If it is fork-shaped, you can expect powdery, light snow and a mild winter.
If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect to be “cut” by icy, cutting winds.”
I am not going to call this a souflle for three reasons. The idea of making souffles can easily make people nervous. Souffles generally have certain rules about how the tops should be flattened, dusted and presented. I was not going to go looking through boxes for my ramekins.
You will need:
2 egg whites
1 very ripe persimmon
1 Tbsp. cornflour
2 Tbsp. port
1/4 cup castor sugar
butter and extra castor sugar for two containers
First off, if cornflour is not sitting on the shelf, try putting some cormeal in a small food processor and pulsing. The really fine part at the bottom of the bowl will do the job for you. Corn based thickeners are said to work better than wheat based ones for this kind of project by will making the egg mixture more stable with less likelihood of the finished product “collapsing”.
Repeat with your sugar if regular sugar is all you have at home. This will make the granules smaller without making icing/powdered sugar.
Secondly, one of the tricks to getting the egg white mixture to rise while baking is to make sure that nothing stops the eggs from working their way up in the containers. That can be achieved by greasing the containers well and then coating the butter with sugar.
I was not going to search for my ramekins, stored in the garage, for two egg whites, so I opted for a casual tone and greased mason jars. The really cool part of that was being able to see what was happening to the egg mixture while it baked.
Cut the top off the persimmon and using a fork mash the fruit into a smooth pulp. The persimmon needs to be ripe!
Heat the persimmon with the corn flour in a pan, stirring while the mixture thickens. Add the port, stir well and then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
In a very clean and dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until they start to thicken up. Some people like to wipe and dry the bowl first with a bit of vinegar. Add the sugar a bit at a time. Keep whisking until the mixture looks glossy and stiff peaks begin to form. I used a hand mixer and a measuring cup as this was just two egg whites.
Fold in three quarters of the persimmon/port mixture. If it has thickened too much, add a little more port and mash it together with a fork before folding the persimmon mixture into the egg whites/sugar. I divided the remaining mixture into the bottom of the three containers as an experiment. The egg whites are going to dilute the flavour of any fruit and I wanted to see what the full strength taste was. Since I was doing this just for us, there was no point standing on protocol.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared containers. Fill about 3/4 quarters full and bake for at least 12 minutes at 350 degrees until the top starts to colour, get crispy and roughly doubles in height.
In a traditional souffle the tops are evened off, so that the entire mixture rises above the edge of the ramekins like a plateau, giving a great feeling of pride.
In our more casual versions I twirled the egg mixture to get varying shades of egg white. The filling did not reach the top but rose while baking to way above the rim.
The wide mouth mason jar version looked like it was about to exceed the confines of the jar when it came out but settled back in over a few minutes. It was interesting to see that the mixture did not “collapse” it simply rose and expanded while baking and then settled back into the container, filling the empty space it had lifted away from while cooling. When the sides of a ramekin are opaque and you can not see what is a happening, it is easy to define this as failure when it is really isn’t.
I am discovering I am not the greatest persimmon fan. The port helped. The technique though can be used for raspberries or plums or any other fruit you enjoy cooked. Remember that the flavour intesity of what you choose will be weakened by the addition of the egg whites and that cold well greased and sugared containers will help the mixture rise. Serve immediately for that grand flourish and impression of clouds floating by. A light way to finish off a heavy dinner.
I made these as an end of day treat to use up the egg whites but as a dessert, timing will be important for proper serving. Taking pictures quickly looses the effect.
Persimmon and Port Clouds from My Kitchen Wand