Not long ago I lived in Burlington, VT for a few months. During that time, I developed a love of hiking, gained an appreciation for Joni Mitchell, kind of learned to play pool, trained for a marathon that I did not run, discovered that not all maple syrups are created equal, and met my canine life partner Rocco, a Boston terrier who gave me the best years of his life until this past April when he decided that I was grown up enough to be on my own, and he quietly passed away. That time in Vermont is also when I baked these persimmon tarts for the first time ... with Rocco shadowing my every step as I hovered over a very temperamental oven. Sometimes the best memories are also the saddest, and that's ok.
1 1/4 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold butter
3 tablespoons cold water
1 3/4 cup light cream of half and half
Contents of 1 vanilla bean
cut lengthwise and scrapped out
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cognac
4 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/16 ground nutmeg
3 to 4 fresh ripe persimmons, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced.
In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half and the vanilla bean to just a simmer, and then immediately remove the pan from the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar until they are smooth and add a small bit of the hot vanilla cream, stirring constantly.
Immediately transfer the warmed egg mixture back into the hot cream and continue whisking until they are completely incorporated. Heat the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reads 170 degrees on a digital candy thermometer or is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stir in the Cognac, and chill the custard.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter, large-tined fork, or a food processor on pulse setting, cut the chilled butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized pieces of butter still visible. Sprinkle the cold water onto the mixture and toss gently a few times, just until it forms a ball that holds together.
Separate the dough into two balls, flatten slightly into thick disk shapes, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for several hours before working with it.
Preheat an oven to 375F. Roll and trim the dough to make a circle large enough to fit a 10-inch fluted tart pan. Fit the circle into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Line the line the dough with pie weights or dried beans and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and bake the shell for an additional 5 minutes. Set aside the pastry shell, still in the tart pan, to cool.
In a small saucepan set over medium low heat, melt the honey, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until the honey is liquefied. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
Once the pastry is cool, spread the cold custard across the bottom surface of the tart. Arrange the fresh persimmon slices in single, spiral-shaped layer on the prepared custard. Brush the surface of the persimmon slices with the spiced honey mixture and serve the persimmon tart chilled or right away, at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 2 days.
This persimmon custard tart with cinnamon ginger honey recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.