The secret to this delicacy is getting the right persimmons. A ripe persimmon should be pillow soft and delicately silky inside. If you can only find unripe persimmons, which can happen around this time of the year, you can ripen them yourself at home by putting them stem side up in a plastic container. In 3 or 4 days, your persimmons should be ripe. Placing them in a tightly sealed brown paper bag accompanied by a banana works almost as well. This recipe came from our family’s friend Paige Healy and is for 2 2-quart pudding molds. I typically like to make two puddings. One for Christmas and one to freeze for a later treat during the cold winter months. If you want to make only one mold, halving the recipe will work just fine.
To make, first spoon the pulp out of 8-10 ripe persimmons and puree in a food processor or blender. This should make 4 cups of puree. Reserve.
In an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ¼ cups melted unsalted butter and 2 ½ cups sugar. Then stir in your persimmon puree, 2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour, ¾ teaspoon salt, 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, 3 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 5 tablespoons of hot water, 5 tablespoons brandy, 2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup currants soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, 2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, ¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts and 5 lightly beaten eggs. Combine all ingredients well.
Butter the inside of two 2-quart pudding molds. Fill with the persimmon mixture and cover tightly. Most molds have covers that snap on. If you don’t’ have such a mold, use a ring mold and cover tightly with foil.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large kettle or stockpot that contains ¾ inch of water, place each mold on a rack or an inverted Pyrex dish. Don’t let the water touch the mold. Over medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot tightly.
Put the kettle in the preheated oven and steam the puddings for 2 ½ hours, checking frequently to make sure that the water hasn’t boiled away. If it has, add more by dribbling it down the sides of the pot. When done, let the puddings rest for 5 minutes. Then remove them from the molds and place on a rack to cool. The puddings can be served warm or at room temperature.