Persimmon and Pistachio Cupcakes

What to eat on the birthday of the trees.

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Anyone who has hosted or attended a Tu Bishvat seder likely remembers a cornucopia of fruit on the table. This agricultural abundance can be somewhat confusing because, unlike Sukkot and Shavuot, Tu Bishvat is not associated with any particular harvest period. Instead, fruit's connection to Tu Bishvat is more metaphysical. As Lesli Koppelman Ross' writes:

On Tu Bishvat it is traditional to eat fruit associated with the land of Israel. The “classical” fruits are the seven species described in Deuteronomy 8:8, “a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey” Since leaving Palestine, Jews throughout the world have maintained connections with the Land of Israel on Tu Bishvat by eating fruits produced there.

In other words, eating the fruits associated with Israel–even if they are out of season–helps root the holiday in the land where it originated. Additionally, the kabbalists, who helped re-imagine Tu Bishvat's celebration in 16th century Safed, developed practices of ritualized fruit consumption as a tool for spiritual elevation.
For those people who are less interested in kabbalistic ritual, serving a fruit-inspired dinner on Tu Bishvat–either after the seder, in lieu of a seder, or on the Shabbat closest to the holiday–can be a great way to honor Tu Bishvat's agricultural roots. To get you started, the two menus below (one meat, one vegetarian), feature fruit in every course. B'teavon!

Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Meat)

Grapefruit & Mint Salad (recipe)
Moroccan Chicken with Lemons and Olives (recipe)
Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit & Nuts (recipe)
Persimmon and Pistachio Cupcakes (recipe blow)

Tu Bishvat Dinner Menu (Vegetarian)

Grapes and Caramelized Pecan Salad (recipe)
Orange and Maple Baked Tofu (recipe)
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples (recipe)
Pear & Chocolate Cake (recipe)

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
  2. 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  3. 1/8 teaspoon groud cinnamon
  4. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 2 1/2 cups flour
  7. 3/4 cup sugar
  8. 3/4 cup pureed persimmon
  9. 1 cup almond milk
  10. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  11. 4 eggs
  12. 1/2 cup margarine, room temperature

Directions

Line two cupcake trays with cups and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together all dry ingredients except sugar in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine persimmon, almond milk, and vanilla and set aside. In a third bowl, cream the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
Alternate folding in the flour mixture and puree mixture into the creamed margarine until just incorporated. Fill cupcake cups until three-quarters full and bake 20-25 minutes until golden. Let cupcakes cool, then top with vegan buttercream frosting and sprinkle with pistachios.

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Leah Koenig is a writer and cookbook author whose work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Saveur, CHOW, Food Arts, Tablet, Gastronomica, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Leah writes a monthly food column for The Forward and a bimonthly column for Saveur.com called “One Ingredient, Many Ways.” She is the former Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning blog, The Jew & The Carrot, and she is a frequent contributor to MyJewishLearning.com, where her recipes are very popular, and highly praised. Her first cookbook, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen, was published by Rizzoli in 2011. The book was named one of the “Best Books of 2011? by Library Journal and The Kitchn called it “a big, beautiful book that is also down-to-earth and completely accessible.”

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