Strudel is one of the classic winter culinary traditions in Italy and ubiquitous during the holidays, specifically in the two provinces of Trentino and Alto Adige or Sudtirol, mountainous areas bordered by Austria at the north and Switzerland to the northwest, as well as in Friuli Venezia-Giulia and on the Istrian peninsula. Hand-pulling strudel to paper thinness seems intimidating but it’s a wonderful activity that can involve the whole family.
Here, the strudel is served with a sauce made from persimmons, which grow throughout northern Italy. Persimmons’ bright orange adds a splash of color perfect for festive occasions like the holidays. This strudel would also be delicious with some vanilla gelato.
Although persimmons are best known for their contribution to desserts, one of my favorite ways to eat them is in salads. Their exotic flavor and delicate sweetness balance out the bitter greens marvelously. Add to that the cayenne-spiked lime vinaigrette and every bite of this salad is refreshing and tantalizing — a pure delight for the taste buds.
Persimmons are fruit trees that are native to China, but they’re now grown in many parts of the world. There are two main varieties of persimmons: non-astringent and astringent. The difference between the two types is the amount of tannins in the fruit. The heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons, perhaps the most common variety, are astringent. Before they ripen, they’re loaded with bitter tannins and are not palatable, but once they’re perfectly ripe and their flesh has completely softened they become quite sweet.
The more squat shaped Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are non-astringent and have much less tannins than their widely grown cousins. They’re sweet even when still firm, although they’ll also turn mushy quite rapidly toward the end of the ripening process.
Both kinds of persimmons are absolutely luscious in this cocktail. If using Fuyu, their flesh can still be firm, but their color should be deep-tangerine. If using Hachiya, the fruits should be soft with a vibrant, orange-red skin.
The cake batter in this recipe has meringue in it that gives it that extra light and fluffy texture. Poured on top of crunchy tangerine-flavored caramel and fresh slices of persimmon, it’s the perfect combination of texture, freshness, and sweet.