Find out how to make a healthy, seasonal forest-to-table dessert from acorn flour, American persimmons, and maple syrup!
We’ve been making acorn flour for about 10 years now, both hot- and cold-leached. If you’ve never made acorn flour before and want to give it a try, read our detailed guide, DIY: How to make acorn flour and check out our acorn flour web story.
Just to be clear, you can’t just take acorns, grind them into powder and call it acorn flour. The high concentrations of bitter tannins make un-leached acorns unpalatable. So the first step in making this recipe is to make (or purchase) acorn flour.
Once you have acorn flour, you can use it for all sorts of unique sweet and savory treats. On the sweet side of things, is these acorn flour and American persimmon cookies, sweetened with a small amount of maple syrup!
Cold-leached vs hot-leached acorn flour: which is better?
There are pros and cons to both cold- and hot-leached acorn flour.
Cold-leached acorn flour
- Pros: Cold-leached acorn flour is more nutritious and yields better baked goods. Even though it’s gluten-free, it has a bit more of a sticky glutenous quality to it, which helps baked goods hold together better.
- Cons: However, it takes a lot more time and effort to make cold-leached acorn flour. (Potentially up to a month, depending on the tannin content of your acorns.)
Hot-leached acorn flour
- Pros: It takes far less time to make hot-leached acorn flour. You can go from acorn to leached, dried, powdered acorn flour in about 2 days.
- Cons: Hot-leached acorn flour has lost more nutrients and binding properties due to being boiled in water repeatedly. The flavor isn’t quite as robust as cold-leached acorn flour. This makes it less ideal when making baked goods.
For this recipe, we recommend using cold-leached acorn flour. However, hot-leached acorn flour will work fine too. Your cookies will just be a bit more crumbly and maybe not quite as acorn-forward.
Getting American persimmons
We grow Asian persimmons but forage American persimmons. For us, there’s no point in taking up precious space growing American persimmons because the trees are so abundant in our forests. (See: Asian and American persimmons: growing, foraging, eating.)
Chances are, if you live anywhere in the southeast US, American persimmons are abundant in your area as well. Just make sure you get to know your trees a bit before filling your mouth (or baked goods) full of American persimmons.
Due to the genetic diversity between each tree, the infamous puckery flavor of American persimmons will vary down to the individual tree. Some trees will yield perfectly sweet and delicious fruit long before first frost. Other trees need frost for their fruit to lose their pucker. Still others will have puckery fruit even after a frost.
No, cooking/baking a puckery American persimmon will not break down the tannins and make it palatable. It will simply make whatever you cook it in unpalatable.
We recommend using American persimmons for this recipe. Generally speaking (not always), American persimmons are richer and more flavorful than Asian persimmons. American persimmons also tend to have a lower water content than Asian persimmons.
If you live in an area where American persimmons don’t grow, you could also substitute store-bought Asian persimmons in to this recipe. Just keep in mind that Asian persimmons generally have a higher water content than American persimmons. So pre-cook them in a sauce pan or oven to remove as much water as you can before blending them into pulp.
Getting the seeds out of American persimmons to make persimmon pulp
You’ll need persimmon pulp to make this recipe. American persimmons have quite a few rock hard seeds inside each fruit and they’re quite mushy.
The ideal way to make American persimmon pulp is as follows:
1. Remove dirt & debris from fruit surface.
Sometimes you can find an American persimmon tree with low-hanging fruit that you can pick right off the tree, no mess. However, oftentimes you’ll find 50+ foot tall trees with fruit littering the ground below.
Mushy fruit that falls a long distance before encountering the forest floor or ground often ends up with some debris attached. You’ll want to remove any dirt or debris attached to the fruit surface either by hand or a gentle rinsing under a kitchen faucet.
2. Remove the persimmon calyx and “tail.”
The persimmon calyx is the hard woody attachment between the fruit and stem. Sometimes, these are still on the persimmon and sometimes they’ve already fallen off. Remove them if they’re still attached.
Second, the bottom of an American persimmon has a hard pointy attachment which we jokingly call a tail. Remove this as well or it can leave an unpleasant mouth feel.
3. Put the persimmons through a chinois strainer.
A chinois strainer is a good quick way to separate persimmon pulp from seed. While it doesn’t separate all the pulp from around the seed, it’s the fastest way we’ve found to process persimmon fruit into bake-ready pulp. (Don’t have a chinois strainer? Try using a metal pasta strainer instead.)
No, it’s not beneath us to suck the pulp off of the persimmon seeds left behind in the strainer. Regardless, we’d recommend taking all those left over seeds and planting them back along a nearby forest edge.
Or, for the intrepid, consider processing your rock-hard persimmon seeds into a drink. Read: American persimmon seed tea – yes, persimmon seeds are edible.
Making acorn persimmon cookies: recipe tips
Now that you’ve got your acorn flour and persimmon pulp ready to go, let’s go through a few recipe tips:
1. Sift your acorn flour to get out any remaining chunks.
You’ll want to run your acorn flour through a fine mesh strainer/sifter to remove any remaining chunks. Those chunks — which we refer to as “acorn grits” — are perfectly fine in stews, soups, etc but they can give an unpleasant texture to cookies and other baked goods.
This recipe calls for 1 cup of sifted cold-leached acorn flour. Since baking is a precise art, we weighed 1 cup of our sifted acorn flour to be 4.3 ounces. (Go with weight vs volume for precision if you have a kitchen scale.)
2. Refrigerate your cookie dough.
We’ve gone through a lot of trial and error with this recipe. When you first mix this cookie dough, it’s very sticky and wet.
Put it in your hands and the dough has a consistency similar to uncooked meatballs. While you could bake it into cookies at this point, it’s best to stick it in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. After chilling, the fats congeal and the acorn flour absorbs more of the liquids, making for a much more workable cookie dough.
3. Roll the dough into a log then slice it into cookies.
Once the dough is chilled and clay-like in consistency, what to do? We like to then roll the dough into a 3-4″ wide log. The, using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2″ thick cookies.
Optional touch: once the cookies are on the baking sheet/parchment paper, sprinkle the tops of your acorn persimmon cookies with a bit of light brown cane sugar or maple sugar. This just adds a nice visual effect since acorn flour cookies aren’t as photogenic as other types of cookies!
5. Ideal bake temp and time.
When baking with maple syrup or honey, we always use a lower baking temp than when cooking with cane sugar. In this case, our baking temperature was 325°F (163°C).
How long you let your acorn flour persimmon cookies cook is up to you. We went on the low end of the spectrum at about 14 minutes. This yielded a softer chewier cookie.
If you prefer a crunchier texture, leave the cookies in the oven for another 5 minutes or so – just keep a close eye on them.
Now, let’s get baking!
Recipe: Acorn flour and American persimmon cookies sweetened with maple syrup
Acorn flour and American persimmon cookies (gluten-free)
A delicious forest-to-table cookie made with acorn flour, American persimmons, and maple syrup.
- 1 cup cold-leached acorn flour, sifted (weigh for exact qty 4.3 ounces) (you can use hot-leached acorn flour as well, but it will make a more crumbly cookie)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (organic grass-fed)
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 3/8 cup persimmon pulp
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/4 tsp salt (we prefer pink Himalayan sea salt)
Put melted butter, maple syrup, persimmon pulp, and egg in electric mixer and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (acorn flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt) with a spoon. Slowly add dry ingredients a spoonful at a time to wet ingredients in electric mixer and continue to mix on medium speed until all ingredients fully combined. Use a spatula to make sure no dry ingredients are left on sides or bottom of mixer. Place cookie dough in fridge for at least two hours until completely chilled.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
Once chilled, remove cookie dough from fridge and form dough into a long shape, about 3-4 inches across (unless you want wider or smaller cookies). Cut the log into 1/2" thick cookies. Place each cookie on to a covered cookie sheet (parchment or foil). Dust tops of cookies with light brown cane sugar or maple sugar (optional).
Bake for 14-20 minutes or until desired texture achieved. We bake ours on the low end, around 14 minutes for a soft, chewy cookie.
Enjoy these forest-to-table treats as much as we do!
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