TONKA and I’m not talking toys.

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June 23, 2013 by culinarysavant

Meanwhile in France….


Yes, these beans are illegal in the USA. WHAT? Illegal beans in the USA?? I MUST HAVE THEM. Yes, I discovered this wonderful bean quite by accident while biting into a bon bon at Jacque Genin in the 3rd. The ganache center exploded with flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, smoky caramel and a deep rich sage honey. Something called tonka bean was responsible for this heavenly delight.

I was so taken back by the tonka flavor, I had chills running down my neck and arms. This is usually a good sign. For me, this is what LIFE is about! This new gem had me so excited that I knew I would be visiting the famed Thiercelin 1809 spice shop to purchase some beans. Luckily Arnuad Thiercelin’s English was far better than my French and sent me home with two bottles of beans, a bottle of his family’s saffron and a bottle of Madagascar vanilla sugar, which reminded me of my time I spent on Moorea in French Polynesia. France and French Polynesia, my life is starting to make sense to me.

The Tonka beans contain the chemical compound coumarin which is a anti-coagulant or blood thinner, but apparently one would have to consume a truck load of these beans to have any serious side effects, but the FDA has deemed them illegal in the USA since the 1950’s.

I knew after that first bite that I would have to work these magical beans into an ice cream recipe. While steeping the shaved beans in a custard over a bain-marie the entire house was filled with the intoxicating aroma of the beans. It was a culinary moment.

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