Pies and Christmas cookies will always have a place at the holiday table. But that doesn't mean you can't mix things up with nontraditional desserts to surprise and delight your family and guests.
This year’s celebrations are extra special as friends and family come together, so it could be the right time to experiment.
"It's always great to do another type of dessert than your traditional pies,” says Robert Nieto, pastry chef with Jackson Family Wines in California's Sonoma County. “With all the seasonal fruits that are out there right now that you can use, it's interesting to try something other than pumpkin, pecans and apples.”
Nieto suggests a persimmon tart that's as pretty as it tastes—and surprisingly easy to make, particularly if you substitute store-bought dough for homemade.
"Dessert is really important, especially during the holidays,” says Nieto. “It's the finale of the night, and you want people to love what you just made.”
This year, try these nontraditional dessert recipes for your own grand finale.
Tarte tatin made with festive persimmons
Usually made with apples, tarte tatin takes on orangey autumn hues when you make it with persimmons instead.
"Persimmons are very different,” says Nieto. “Their taste is not too sweet. They have a crunchy texture almost like an apple.”
The reveal comes when you flip this tart over to uncover the beautiful caramelized pattern of the fruit.
Persimmon Tarte Tatin
For the caramelized persimmons:
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered pectin
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 5 to 7 fuyu persimmons peeled, halved and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
For the dough:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/3 cup ice-cold water
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Prepare the dough by combining flour, sugar and salt and mixing on low. Scatter butter over flour mixture and beat on medium for one minute, until the butter is the size of small peas. Slowly add the ice water and beat until the dough comes together and is evenly moistened. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a round 1/8 inch thick. Cut to 9 1/2 inches diameter. (Store-bought dough can be substituted.)
3. Prepare the caramel sauce by stirring together both sugars, salt and pectin in a bowl and set aside. Set an eight-inch ovenproof skillet on the stove over medium heat and add butter. Once melted, sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the butter. Use a spatula to combine butter and sugar, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, until an amber color. Stir in lemon juice and mix until fully incorporated, then remove from heat.
4. Arrange persimmon slices over the hot caramel, starting from the side of the skillet and working toward the center, carefully overlapping slices. Cover skillet with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 18 minutes, until slightly bubbly.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully lay the dough round atop the persimmons. Return pan to the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until dough is cooked though and golden brown. Remove tart from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
6. Gently invert a 10- or 12-inch plate over the skillet and carefully flip the pan and plate together. Lift off the pan and let the tart cool for 25 to 30 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.