Tonka bean recipes: exotic trendy ingredient for sweet and savory dishes

tonka bean recipes paper bag spice-sweet-scented

In today’s article we would like to introduce you to an exotic fashion spice, namely the tonka bean. It has excellent taste properties, which is why gourmet cuisine can no longer be imagined without it. Below you will find useful information about the trend ingredient as well as delicious tonka bean recipes that will bring a new taste experience to your menu.

What is a tonka bean?

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The tonka beans are actually the almond-shaped seeds of the tonka tree. Only after the fruit of the tonka tree has dried completely are the tonka beans on the market. They predominantly thrive in South America, Venezuela and the Caribbean. The great variety of flavors makes this exotic newcomer something very special.

cake-almond-tonka-bean-cup of coffee

The taste of the tonka bean is a combination of almonds, marzipan, liquorice, caramel and vanilla. The brown-black bean is characteristically sweet and aromatic and is used as a substitute for the vanilla pod. The beguiling tonka bean can not only be used as a spice, but also in naturopathy, aroma therapy and incense. It is also used as an additive in men’s perfumes.


The spice contains the active ingredient coumarin. For this reason, tonka beans should be used sparingly. In Germany and other parts of Europe, the sale of the plant was prohibited in the 1970s and 1990s. However, it is safe to eat less than two milligrams of tonka beans per kilogram of food. Due to the intense taste, the spice is used sparingly anyway, so you do not need to worry about any health risks. The tasty bean can be bought in most pharmacies in Germany and Austria.


The tonka bean is very hard and is best rubbed on a nutmeg. The bean can also be added to very different dishes and, in the case of warm dishes, shortly before the end of the cooking time, added for about a minute. The beans can also lie overnight in a fruit puree or cream. In the following we have selected selected recipes with tonka beans for main course, dessert and liqueur for you.

Tonka Bean Recipes for Desserts – Aromatic Tonka Bean Ice Cream


The tonka beans can be used in hearty dishes as well as in desserts. The intense taste of its own also gives various liqueurs and cocktails a special and interesting note. The spice spices up various desserts such as chocolates, parfaits, as well as puddings and ice creams. Here is a delicious recipe with tonka beans for ice cream. For the cooling dessert you need:

  • 300 ml of cream
  • 200 ml whole milk
  • 90 g of sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Tonka bean

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First rub the tonka bean on the nutmeg grater and put the zest together with the milk and cream in a saucepan. Boil the liquid while stirring and let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Then use the whisk to stir the egg yolks into a heat-resistant bowl. Pour the tonka bean cream into the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Then you can whip the liquid creamy over a hot water bath. As soon as you take the cream off the water bath, stir it for another 5 minutes. Leave the cooled cream in the refrigerator overnight. Then pass the ice cream mixture through a fine sieve and let it set in the ice cream maker for about 50 minutes. Garnish your homemade tonka bean ice cream as you like.

Prepare tonka bean creme brulee


You can also use tonka beans to prepare the French classic dessert creme brulee and pamper your palate with the bewitching aromas of almonds and vanilla. The ingredients for this tonka bean dessert are the same as in the ice cream recipe above. However, 100 ml each of cream and milk are used here. Pour the cooled cream-milk mixture into fireproof molds and place in a deep tray with water. You should be halfway in the water.

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Let the mixture set in a preheated oven at 150 degrees for about 40 minutes. Let the molds cool down. Just before serving, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar and caramelize it with the flambé burner. Tonka bean recipes like this definitely make you want another serving.

Hearty tonka bean recipes – fish with a creamy tonka bean sauce

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Fish dishes also offer the ideal stage for the noble, aromatic spice. We have a recipe for you with tonka beans for a juicy skrei with a delicious tonka bean sauce. You will need the following ingredients for two servings:

  • 400 g ski fillet with skin
  • 30 g butter
  • salt and pepper


For the tonkabohenen sauce:

  • 200 ml fish stock
  • 150 ml of cream
  • 60 ml white wine
  • 30 ml Noilly Prat vermouth
  • 1 shallot
  • Tonka bean
  • salt and pepper

For the delicious sauce, sweat the finely chopped shallots in butter. Deglaze with white wine and vermouth. Add the fish stock and reduce the liquid to about 125 ml. Then add the cream, stir everything well and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Sift through the sauce, rub the tonka bean into it and let it simmer briefly. If the sauce thickens too much, you can stretch it with a little cream. Then fry the pieces of fish on the skin for about four minutes, not too hot, and season the underside. Turn the ski fillets over and saute for another minute.

Easy and quick tonka bean recipes – spaghetti with tomato sauce with tonka bean


You are also welcome to add a pinch of tonka beans to your homemade tomato sauce and enhance the taste of your favorite pasta dish.


  • 80 g spaghetti or tagliatelle
  • 200-300 g cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Tonka bean abrasion
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper

Boil the pasta in salted water. Heat the oil and fry the thin slices of garlic in it. Add the quartered tomatoes and the tonka bean zest. Cook everything over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the cherry tomatoes fall apart. Mix the pasta with the tomato sauce and your pasta dish is ready to serve. If you want, you can also season the pasta with a little fresh basil in addition to salt and pepper.

Tonka bean recipes for strawberry liqueur

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If you would like to modify a tried and tested liqueur recipe and score points with your guests with an alcoholic drink with a kick, the following recipe for a fruity strawberry liqueur might be something for your taste. You need the following ingredients:

  • 250 g strawberries
  • 500 ml of vodka
  • 90 g brown rock sugar
  • 1/3 vanilla pod
  • 1/3 tonka bean

Wash the strawberries, dry them and put them in a sealable container. Also add the remaining ingredients and seal the jar airtight. Let the liqueur steep in a dark and cool place for at least a week. Stir it daily so that the sugar candy can completely dissolve. Pour the finished liqueur through a sieve and pour it into bottles. Cap the bottles and let the liqueur mature for at least another three weeks.