Tonka Beans!!!??

The word tonka immediately brings back memories of my childhood playing with indestructible toy trucks in a muddy puddle. Zoom forwards a few decades and the tonka bean is truly making its mark in the culinary world. Firstly used in perfumery and, strangely enough, the tobacco industry.Also used in French haute cuisine .It is, however,heavily regulated in it use in the US of A (more of that later)

tonka beans .

Just what the hell is it?  A simple looking bean to start with, not the most attractive looking thing however. A wrinkled exterior and about an inch long with a slightly soft center. The simple presentation of the bean belies its potency, an amazingly complex mix of flavours which are all identifiable. Vanilla, a floral hint of magnolia, a feeling of freshly ground cloves and a woody notes of which I am led to believe is being sandalwood. It was originally used in tobacco and also for perfume.


Where is it from?  Venezuela and Nigeria are the main areas of cultivation as a crop. It is found throughout north-west South America. It is an important crop for the rural communities by way of financial reward.



How to use it? The bean is grated to create a flavour packed powder. Its use is now like any other ground spice. Added to crème Anglaise takes it to a different level. Mix with cocoa powder and roll chocolate ganache for mind blowing truffles. Mix with mayonnaise and eat with charcuterie. As with a vanilla pod it produces a wonderfully flavoured castor sugar, just pop a bean into a jar of the sugar.


The USA has imposed regulations on the use of the tonka bean due to a derivative of a chemical found in the bean is used as an anticoagulant . The bean itself is not an anticoagulant.

Try it you will love it!!

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