In Apulia you can still breathe the air of autumn. The fireplaces with their smoking chimneys, the olive harvest and the smell of the olive mills and then the fragrances of mushroom, chestnut, persimmon, strawberry, fennel and pumpkins, to name some of the products we offer this season. A period in which the dominant colors are orange, yellow, red and brown, when the days get shorter and the afternoon nap becomes more a need than a whim: you can feel the effect of the lethargy people!
The terrifying outing of the bikini and swimwear, is now just a bad dream, far away from this summer and far enough away from next summer and finally we can relax, loosen our belts a little and spoil ourselves with a few indulgences … (I took the liberty of including you all in this modest thought, but if you are not thinking this way, just consider it a one of my delusions of grandeur in using a "royal we";)).
Besides, Christmas is near and for me this basic and fundamental rule applies:
"It does not matter what you eat between Christmas and New Year's Eve, but what you eat between New Year’s Eve and Christmas." (Papà Giordano)
My idea for this autumn recipe first took shape during a lazy afternoon in mid-October, accompanied by Leigh (USA) and Alison (UK) as we watched a fast-paced movie nestled comfortable on the sofa: a cheesecake with a dark chocolate biscuit base, a filling flavored with chestnut puree and covered with pureed persimmon pulp. A sweet and comforting dessert brimming with the full-bodied flavors of autumn.
2 cups of your favorite chocolate cookies finely crushed
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
5 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 very ripe persimmons
- Heat oven to 325°F.
- Line 13×9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix chocolate cookies crumbs, 6 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.
- Peel and then boil the chestnuts for about 40 minutes: they have to be very soft. Puree them and set aside. Put the persimmons in a blender with a tablespoon of caster sugar and set aside.
- Meanwhile, beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and chestnuts puree with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low after each just until blended. Pour over crust.
- Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve. Top with persimmons' casino puree.