Tonka beans have not been known in Europe for very long
They originally come from South America (especially Venezuela) and from tropical Africa.
However, the last few years they have become very popular in our country as well, especially in top gastronomy.
They are the seeds of the fruit of the tonka bean tree
They are black-brown, about 3-5 cm long, and about 1 cm wide. They have shriveled skin and are almond-shaped.
Tonka beans have an intense vanilla aroma with hints of bitter almond, smoky and balsamic.
All in all, they smell and taste beguiling, but also somewhat heavy.
Thus, it gives a whole new touch to well-known desserts. For example, panna cotta, crème brûlé or instead of vanilla in a vanilla cream, which this way becomes a tonka cream.
You can also refine ice cream with it.
It harmonizes very well in combination with coconut or chocolate. It also flavors liquids, for example rum.
In small quantities, it also enhances fish dishes such as fish fillets or fish cream soups, poultry or game dishes.
Small amounts are enough to flavor a dish
You can grate it on a nutmeg grater or cook it whole. Especially in milk and cream dishes is ideal to cook. After cooking, you can rinse the bean and let it dry. This way you can reuse them up to ten times. For fish, poultry, or game, grating is better.
Tonka bean extract is also used in the perfume industry. Especially for rich, heavier men’s perfumes. You can also find it for smoking in pipe tobacco or in scented potpourris.
One thing about the coumarin content in tonka beans
It’s true, tonka beans, as well as cassia cinnamon, contain coumarin.
Coumarin has a reputation for being liver damaging or even carcinogenic in high doses. Emphasis on “in high doses.”
If you use tonka beans as a spice, that is, in small doses, you take no risk.
Because tonka beans are so intense, it doesn’t take much to get a great flavor experience anyway.
I tried a tonka bean cream and really enjoyed it. You will have the recipe up next Friday!
What have you cooked with tonka beans?