A must-have ingredient for Peruvian desserts, this golden fruit with a rich caramel flavor is considered the “last gold of the Incas” and is the pride of Peru.
What Does Lucuma Taste Like?
Lucuma has a sweet, earthy, and fruity flavor. Some describe it as similar to sweet potato with caramel and a citrusy undertone. The fresh fruit has a soft starchy texture with a slightly grainy quality. When blended, it becomes rich and creamy like pureed pumpkin.
When turned into lucuma powder, the caramel notes are amplified and it takes on a slightly nuttier, butterscotch-like flavor with a subtler sweetness compared to sugar.
Where to Buy Lucuma
Lucuma is the national fruit of Peru and grows in abundance in its mountainous regions. It’s also grown in nearby Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile as well as parts of Vietnam. Because the plant only grows in specific climates, it’s typically exported to other countries or sold frozen or powdered. Powdered lucuma can easily be found online or in health food shops. Fresh or frozen lucuma is harder to find but might be sold in specialty grocery stores.
In its native Peru, lucuma is used to flavor everything from ice cream to milkshakes and cheesecakes. It can be blended and incorporated into the recipe or turned into manjar de lúcuma first, a blend of dulce de leche and pureed lucuma. Lucuma’s caramel-like sweetness and earthy richness are a wonderful pairing for milky desserts. Swirl it into this classic cheesecake or drizzle manjar over sous vide flan in place of caramel.
Powdered lucuma is typically used as a sweetener and makes an excellent substitute for brown sugar. Use twice the amount of lucuma powder when using it to replace brown sugar if you want to achieve the same level of sweetness. We think it’ll work especially well in our chia seed banana oatmeal and Hawaiian butter mochi. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to sweets, either. You can use lucuma powder in the sauce for our shrimp pad thai or to add some sweetness to classic sloppy joes.