Lucuma Ice-cream is undoubtedly Peru’s favorite flavor. While I don’t know the statistics, I can say that in many markets and stores close to a third of all of the ice-cream in the freezer is Lucuma. It can be plain or served with wonderful swirls of chocolate (or cacao). In Italy, there is Spumoni and in the US there is Neapolitan, with its blocks of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, and here in Peru they have Tri-color, which is often Vanilla, Lucuma and either Strawberry or Chocolate (Chocolate is great with Lucuma). Don’t get me wrong, Peru isn’t a one flavor country, and in hot places like the jungle, ice-cream seems like a necessity. So with all of the exotic fruits there are many, many varieties out there. But Lucuma, understandable is the over-all favorite. Lucuma is so hard to transport, the rest of the world will have to come to Peru to really understand why it is so popular.
If you’ve never had Lucuma, it is a starchy, sweet fleshy fruit with the consistency of a dry baked yam and a unique flavor which some say has hints of maple, butterscotch and sweet potato. The mostly green skinned fruits, when ripened, usually crack exposing the goldenrod colored flesh, which to newcomers seems a little weird. If you are selecting Lucuma, don’t let the exposed flesh throw you off that is a good sign that the Lucuma is sweet and ready to eat. Inside a Lucuma you will usually find from one to three seeds. To use the flesh, gently scrape away the outer skin with a knife or spoon, then cut in half and remove the seeds. The flesh can have a bit of stringiness to it so try to pass it through a sieve for uniformity.
Lucuma Ice-Cream Recipe (no ice-cream freezer needed!)
Yields 2/3 gallon
- Flesh from 1 kilo of Lucuma (5-6 average fruits)
- 1 cup sugar (we use a red turbinado here)
- 2 cups evaporated milk (or substitute kefir or thinned yogurt)
- 1 cup heavy cream (or substitute kefir or thinned yogurt)
- 4 egg yolks (omit if using yogurt)
- optional 1/2 cup milk to thin if needed
- Optional: scant salt (up to 1/4 teaspoon)
- Optional: 2 tablespoons cream de cacao (alcohol reduces crystallization)
Incorporate sugar and egg yolks in the bottom of a heavy pot and then add 1 cup evaporated milk. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly until it just starts to bubble and forms a custard (don’t boil it or the eggs will scramble). Remove from the heat and stir in the Lucuma and rest of the milk. Bend in batches (adding a little milk if it is too thick to blend) pour in to freezer safe containers and freeze.
Note: The purpose of egg yolks in ice-cream is to add a custard like quality, in fact what you do its make a simple custard and freeze it. This works well without an ice-cream freezer because custard tends to keep its thickness throughout the freezing process and less large crystallization occurs. Kefir or thinned yogurt can be substituted for custard (in which case you add the pourable yogurt, sugar and Lucuma to a blender and then freeze).