This American persimmon pie (aka Tyrant’s Tree Pie) is made with a chestnut flour crust and maple whipped cream: three complimentary layers of flavor from three different tree species. Decadent! You can also use this recipe even if you don’t have chestnut flour or if you have Asian persimmons.
We should start this recipe article by saying we don’t eat dessert very often, maybe once every couple of weeks. (Unless you count a piece of fresh-picked fruit as dessert.)
We generally think it’s a good idea to avoid foods with added sugar, especially if they’re combined with other highly processed ingredients (example: white flour). However, we also think it’s a good idea to indulge in homemade seasonal dessert from time-to-time.
There’s wisdom in Michael Pollan’s eating rule: “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” When we do eat sweets/desserts, they’re homemade and the main ingredients are typically home-grown or foraged — not as frictionless a process as popping open a bag of pre-made cookies.
In short: we’d love for you to enjoy this persimmon pie recipe as much as we do. However, since we also want to encourage people to be their best/healthiest selves, don’t overdo it!
Recipe notes & tips
Our American persimmon pie recipe is basically three recipes in one: a) chestnut flour pie crust, b) persimmon pie filling, and c) maple syrup whipped cream. A few important tips and notes for success with this recipe:
1. American vs Asian persimmons
American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) are a common tree in the southeast. The ripe fruit is about the size of a ping-pong ball and is intensely flavorful when ripe. In fact, a ripe American persimmon is a dessert unto itself.
However, if you get a less-than-ripe American persimmon you’re in for some punishment since the bitter tannins will make you think your mouth is turning inside out. For this recipe, make certain that you use fully ripe American persimmons.
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American persimmons. Smaller and seedier than their Asian cousins, but unmatched in taste (unless unripe, then prepare for puckery punishment). This is a fruit both The Tyrant and I grew up foraging, and we look forward to them each fall. Baby Sebastian already loves them as well. We’re going to try to make today’s batch into a persimmon pie with chestnut crust. Always fun to try something new with old friends. #americanpersimmon #nativeplants #foraging
Yes, you can also use Asian persimmons (much larger and usually pucker-free) for this recipe. They’re just not as flavorful as American persimmons, and they tend to be more watery.
(Read more about the differences between persimmon species and cultivars, and how to grow or forage persimmons.)
2. De-seeding American persimmons
Separating seed from pulp in American persimmons is messy work. There may be a tool out there that makes the process easy but we just use fingers and a metal strainer. Here’s how:
Remove and compost/discard the persimmon calyx (the hard woody attachment between the fruit and stem). Interestingly, Asian persimmon calyxes are an ingredient in Chinese herbal medicine, but we’ve never used them.
Also, remove the small pointy node at the bottom of the fruit. I used to call these “persimmon tails” when I was a kid.
Now the metal strainer comes in handy. Put the persimmons in the strainer and smush them around with your hands, while holding the strainer over your “finished” bowl. After a few minutes of smushing and sliding the seeds over the rough strainer surface, the bulk of the pulp will separate from the seeds and go into the bowl below.
You can plant these seeds in locations of your choice as a gift to future you or future generations. Or you can dry, roast, and grind them to be added to coffee or tea. (More on that in another article.)
Asian persimmons are MUCH easier to de-seed by comparison. In fact, some varieties are bred to be seedless.
Once you’ve got all your finished persimmon pulp, immersion blend it or put it in a standard blender to blend it into a uniform pureed consistency.
3. Chestnut flour
We also grow our own organic chestnuts and are always in search of new chestnut recipe ideas. This year, we’ve made small batches of chestnut flour and are enjoying learning how to cook with it. (Learn how to make your own chestnut flour.)
Chestnut flour doesn’t contain gluten which means it doesn’t bind together like wheat does. So binders need to be added to chestnut flour recipes where applicable, such as the addition of a beaten egg in our chestnut pie crust below.
If you don’t have chestnuts or homemade chestnut flour, you can either: a) buy chestnut flour, or b) just make your favorite go-to wheat flour pie crust.
4. Maple whipped cream
Like pumpkin pie, this persimmon pie recipe really benefits from the addition of a creamy topping. We liked the idea of adding more “tree” to this recipe, hence making whipped cream infused with real maple syrup. (If you use fake maple syrup, we’ll unfriend you.)
We also like to add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar while mixing to give our whipped cream extra lift and staying power. However, it’s not essential so don’t fret if you don’t have any in your spice cabinet or cupboard.
Let’s just say it worked – can’t wait for you to try it! And to add just one more little notch of perfection, grate a bit of nutmeg over the top of the maple whipped cream.
5. Pie pan sizes
Pie pan sizes can be really confusing, and different brands often have slightly different dimensions. The pie pan used in this recipe was 1 1/4″ deep x 9″ across (measuring from the inside). It holds about 4 cups of filling.
If you use the exact same pan size we do, you’ll have a little extra pie crust and some extra persimmon filling too. No worries: combine these ingredients in a small saucepan, add about 1/2 cup milk and whisk them constantly over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes (or until thickened) for a delicious persimmon pudding.
Or use a slightly larger pie pan if you want to get all the goodies into a pie.
American persimmon pie with chestnut flour crust and maple whipped cream
Also known as Tyrant's Tree Pie, this recipe utilizes three different tree species: American persimmons for the pie filling, chestnuts for the pie crust, and maple for the whipped cream flavoring. A decadent and delicious seasonal pie!
Chestnut flour pie crust
- 2 cups chestnut flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat, stone ground organic flour (or gluten-free baking/pastry flour of your choice)
- 1 cup butter, cold and chopped into small pieces (2 sticks)
- 1 duck egg (or large chicken egg)
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp *brown sugar (*optional: we didn't add sugar to ours, but if you want a sweeter, more shortbread like pie crust, go for it)
American persimmon pie filling
- 2 3/4 cups American persimmon puree (you can use Asian persimmons as an alternative)
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 3 duck eggs, beaten (or 3 large chicken eggs)
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 tbsp whole wheat, stone ground organic flour (used as extra thickener)
- 1/2 cup whole organic grass milk
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Maple whipped cream
- 1 cup organic whipping cream
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional, but helps give whipped cream excellent lift and staying power - the tiny air bubbles don't collapse nearly as fast)
Chestnut pie crust
Mix together flours and salt. Cut butter into small pieces, then add to flour. Work butter in to flour with large fork for 2-3 minutes, then incorporate the rest of the way with your fingers.
Make hole in center of flour mixture and pour in beaten egg. Work egg into flour mixture with large spoon for 1-2 minutes, then work the rest of the way in with hands/fingers for another minute. You should be able to form dough into ball when it's ready. If not, add 1 tablespoon ice water, work in quickly by hand and try again. Repeat until dough is able to stick together and form ball. Refrigerate dough wrapped in saran wrap if not making pie crust/pie immediately. If making pie immediately, begin forming pie crust in pie pan as detailed below.
Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Let dough warm about 10-15 minutes if cold stored. Unlike flour-based pie dough, you won't be rolling out chestnut pie crust with a rolling pin. You'll be forming it by hand into your buttered pie pan (it has the consistency of crumbly shortbread). Smush pieces of dough into pan until entire surface and edges have about a 1/4" thick crust layer. Press top edges down with fork for decorative finish.
Poke holes in crust with fork before placing in oven so that any steam can escape as the dough heats rather than causing bubbles/cracks to form in crust.
Place pie crust in pre-heated oven at 350°F and bake for about 15 minutes until the crust just starts to turn golden on the edges. Remove and let cool to close to room temp before adding pie filling.
American persimmon pie filling
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In large bowl, whisk persimmon and sugar together until fully incorporated. Beat duck eggs in separate bowl, then whisk into persimmon-sugar mix along with melted butter.
In separate bowl, whisk flour into milk, then pour into persimmon mixture and stir/whisk all ingredients together. Pour persimmon filling into lightly pre-cooked chestnut pie crust (from above).
Place pie in oven and bake at 375 for about 30 minutes until filling starts to firm up/set. Then turn oven down to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes, or until pie filling has firmed up and risen in the center.
Remove from oven; let pie cool to room temp on baking rack, then refrigerate.
Maple whipped cream
Combine whipping cream, cream of tartar, and maple syrup in mixing bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy. You'll know it's ready when you can lift up the beater blades and the whipped cream forms peaks. Put in fridge.
Place a large dollop of maple whipped cream on top of American persimmon pie when serving. Extra: grate a tiny bit of fresh nutmeg over the top of the whipped cream just before serving - a little goes a long way but it adds a wonderful flavor and visual interest.
We hope you love Tyrant’s Tree Pie as much as we do! Be sure to go on a nice long hike after eating it to earn those extra calories — and to find more wild American persimmons.
More tasty articles you’ll want to read:
- DIY: How to make chestnut flour
- Japanese vs American persimmon: how to grow, forage, and eat
- How to grow chestnuts in your home orchard or homestead
- Recipe: 20 minute pan-roasted chestnuts on a stovetop
- How to make acorn flour
- Recipe: Hickory nut ambrosia
- Recipe: Persimmon bread with oats, walnuts, and honey (no sugar)