Persimmon Gingerbread Cakes (with assistance from a certain “Trader Joe”!)
With their signature selection of healthy eats and specialty imports at ridiculously low prices, Trader Joe’s is my happiest place on Earth. My condolences to the 24 states of the Union that do not have TJ’s yet; hopefully this amazing grocery chain is coming soon to a shopping center near you!
One of my favorite Trader Joe’s products is their Deep, Dark Gingerbread mix. I’m absolutely not above using boxed cake mixes, but I can’t resist sprucing them up. Last winter, I was looking for an easy, festive cupcake I could quickly get together for a holiday party. I had a box of the gingerbread mix and all the necessary ingredients to make it. I also had three Hachiya persimmons from my local farmers’ market. Ideas percolated. Persimmon Gingerbread Cupcakes were born.
I love lemon, so I added lemon zest to the batter and a sticky lemon glaze to the baked cupcakes, which makes them akin to mini sticky puddings and keeps them moist for days. That said, the lemon component is completely optional. The cakes are absolutely delicious with just the persimmon puree.
I also love whipped cream, so I “whipped up” a persimmon whipped cream as the topping. Again, completely optional. Without the whipped cream, however, I recommend the lemon glaze for some pizzazz, but feel free to experiment on your own. An addition I haven’t tried yet: a third cup of raisins and/or toasted pecans… next time!
Persimmon Gingerbread Cakes
1 box of Trader Joe’s Deep, Dark Gingerbread mix
2 large eggs (the box of mix calls for 1; I use 2!)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water (the box calls for 3/4 cup, but the liquid in the persimmons makes up the difference)
¾ cup persimmon puree, or approx. half of the yield (see instructions below)
Zest of one lemon (optional)
Lemon glaze (optional; see instructions below)
Preheat your oven to 375º and prepare your muffin tins, either by lining them with paper wrappers, or greasing each tin (my approach for this recipe).
Mix eggs, oil, and water in a bowl until blended. Stir in the Trader Joe’s gingerbread mix. Fold the cooled persimmon puree, and lemon zest if using, into the batter.
Scoop the batter into the cupcake tins so that each cup is two-thirds full.
Bake 15-20 minutes on the center rack until the batter appears set and a toothpick comes out cleanly from a cupcake’s center.
If you decide you use the lemon glaze, poke four holes in the hot, fresh-from-the-oven cupcakes, then generously spoon the glaze over them. Cakes are best served warm with a dollop of persimmon whipped cream (recipe below).
3 ripe Hachiya** persimmons, peeled and cut into small chunks, core removed
¼ cup water
1 ½ t sugar
A dusting of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Simmer over low heat till the persimmons begin to breakdown, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes.
Use a food processor or blender to puree the persimmons. Allow to cool, then split the yield into two equal portions of about ¾ cups each.
**Note: Hachiya persimmons are shaped like acorns, versus Fuyu persimmons, which are tomato-shaped and not as soft. Hachiyas (pictured above) are much better than Fuyus for baking.
Easy Lemon Glaze (optional)
¼ cup of lemon juice (the juice of 1 medium lemon, in my experience)
¾ cup powdered sugar
Mix together till all powdered sugar has dissolved and the mixture is opaque and liquidy.
Persimmon Whipped Cream (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
A dusting of cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, and a drizzle of honey
¾ cup persimmon puree, or approx. half of the yield (see instructions above)
Beat heavy cream on high in an electric mixer. As cream begins to thicken, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey, and continue to beat.
When peaks have formed and the cream appears to be fully whipped, turn off mixer and gently fold persimmon puree into the whipped cream.
For more of my favorite cupcake recipes, click here!