The rich intensity of flavor that ripe Hachiya persimmons contribute make them a favored baking staple during the autumn months. In this recipe, persimmon purée makes a very soft, moist addition to a basic cheesecake.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Place the crumbs in a small bowl and add the sugar and butter, mixing to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake until the crust is golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until smooth. Add the persimmon purée and mix just until smooth. Then add the flour, cinnamon, lemon zest, salt and vanilla, and combine on low speed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each one is incorporated before adding the next.
Place the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling into the pan and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 55 minutes, then turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 2 more hours. Do not open the oven while baking or cooling, or you run the risk of cracking and deflating the cheesecake.
After the 2-hour cooling period, remove the pan from the oven and let the cheesecake cool completely at room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours, before serving. Serve with whipped cream garnish, if desired.