The first time I ever had jicama, it was cut into spears and served alongside a salad. A child then, I was excited for its newness, and I loved the way it added a sweet and mild crunch to my plate of otherwise typical veggies.
But somehow I sort of forgot about jicama after that, or at least I didn’t give it much thought — until I recently discovered it pickled with chili peppers at a taqueria. Its blank canvas quality had proven perfect, so I wondered if it might also be a good candidate for dessert. Earthy, sweet and pleasantly mild, jicama’s recipe potential seemed limitless.
With the taqueria fresh on my mind, tequila and lime were natural next ingredients. I decided on a vanilla-rich cake batter speckled with turbinado sugar, almond meal and lime zest. Succulent, tangy nectarines in a tequila-spiked syrup would make a nice complementary topping.
I admit I wasn’t sure what would happen to the tuber when I baked it — I’d only seen it served raw — but as a jicama-hating friend said when she bravely tasted my creation, “This is what it’s meant for! Deliciousness!”
Jicama lime cake with tequila-glazed nectarines
1 jicama root, at least 10 ounces
2 to 3 limes
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup almond meal, preferably skin-on (not blanched)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder, paste, or seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan, and either lightly dust with flour or line the inner bottom with parchment; set aside.
Carefully cut the jicama in half; this can be difficult and may require quite a whack. Cut one half into 3 wedges, and with each wedge, run a sharp knife along the inside of the skin to peel it away and discard it. Using a large hole box grater, grate the peeled jicama.
Before peeling and grating the other half, measure what you’ve grated. You need one moderately packed cup (5 ounces) of grated jicama. Set aside for the cake batter. Save any leftover ungrated jicama to use as you wish.
Using a fine grater, such as a Microplane, finely zest the peel of two limes. Set zest aside for cake batter. Juice the limes to make 3 tablespoons juice (you may need a third lime to yield this amount); set 1 tablespoon aside for cake batter and save the rest for the glaze.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl. Whisk in the almond meal, removing any clumps. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, and vanilla powder until smooth and even. Add the flour mixture, mixing until smooth. Fold in the turbinado sugar, followed by the grated jicama and lime zest, until just incorporated. Finally, stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice until the texture is even.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the center no longer jiggles and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out batter-free. Let the cake cool to room temperature in the pan.
Tequila Glazed Nectarines
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup tequila
2 tablespoons lime juice (from above)
About 3 large ripe nectarines
Place the sugar, tequila, lime juice, and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a mellow simmer over low to medium heat. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and syrup has slightly thickened, about 3 – 5 minutes. Test the syrup occasionally by placing a drop on a plate, letting it cool for a moment, and rubbing it between your fingers to feel for smoothness and thickness. Be careful to not burn or boil it. As soon as the syrup feels smooth, remove pan from heat and the let syrup cool, stirring occasionally (it will begin to thicken as it cools), until it just just slightly warm or at room temperature.
While the syrup cools, rinse and dry the nectarines, then remove the pits and cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces; you should have about 3 cups chopped fruit.
When ready to serve, remove the cooled cake from pan (discarding parchment if used) and slice the cake into wedges. Top each piece with a generous scoop of nectarines. If the syrup has thickened too much, heat it very briefly and stir. Drizzle generous spoonfuls of syrup over the cake slices. Eat immediately, and enjoy!
Bursting with flavors that seem destined to be together, jicama lime cake is incredibly vibrant — practically the opposite of the main ingredient within. The bits of tart lime echo the tangy nectarine topping, just as the turbinado sugar and tequila offer a well-matched warmth. Thanks to the juicy grated jicama and flecks of almond in the batter, the cake is incredibly soft and moist, its succulence magnified by tender, boozy fruit. Refreshing, balanced and flavorful, jicama has found a delicious new home.
Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers, where this recipe first appeared.
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