Persimmon pudding has its magic as the classic Southern expression of persimmon’s autumnal goodness. Keep it in mind for pie as well, where its robust, rustic flavor and handsome fall color star in my variation on the traditional pumpkin pie. Note: For best results, make the Pecan Streusel topping ahead, so that it can chill for 2 hours; longer is fine. This recipe is featured in Southern Living magazine’s November 2017 issue.
1. Prepare the Pecan Streusel: Whisk together flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and forms large, moist clumps. Add pecans, and work into clumps until incorporated. Refrigerate until mixture is very cold and firm, 1 to 2 hours. (Or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days; or freeze for 1 month).
2. Prepare the crust and place it in a pie pan. Crimp the top edges, or press with the tines of a fork.
3. Prepare the Persimmon Filling: Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl until well combined. Add melted butter to sugar mixture, stirring with a fork until mixture is evenly combined and resembles damp sand.
4. In another medium bowl, stir together evaporated milk and eggs, using a whisk or a fork to mix them evenly and well. Add the sugar-butter mixture and stir until everything is smooth and creamy. Add the persimmon puree and stir until all ingredients combine into a smooth, creamy filling.
5. Pour filling into piecrust. Bake in the preheated oven (375 degrees F) until filling is partially set (it has lost its initial liquid texture and overall shiny surface), 25 to 30 minutes.
6. Carefully remove the pie from the oven --- it will still be very liquid so take care here. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Remove the Pecan Streusel from the refrigerator. Use your fingers to break the cold streusel into small clumps and crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel all over the center of the pie, leaving the edges showing for their beautiful autumn color.
7. Return the streusel-covered pie to the oven to continue baking. Bake at 350 degrees F until the pie filling is firm, puffed up, and set, 25 to 30 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Cut and serve at room temperature, with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream, or vanilla ice cream, or as is. Makes one 9-inch pie.
8. Prepare the Brown Sugar Whipped Cream: Using chilled beaters and a large chilled bowl, beat cream with an electric mixer on high speed until thickened and puffy, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes more, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add vanilla and beat just until it disappears into the beautiful clouds of cream. Cover and chill until serving time.
If you don’t have 2 hours to chill the Pecan Streusel, spread it on a plate and place it in the freezer while you prepare the pie. You won’t need it until halfway through cooking time, so this will help it set up quickly. Make a double batch and keep it in the freezer for future pies if you like it as much as I do. You could use a double batch and cover the entire pie if you really love streusel. Great on any pie filling!
Recipe credit: Southern Living Magazine