Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Tonka Bean Madeleines

Posted by osakaben41 on April 4, 2010

Let me start by saying, I don’t expect this post to land me in jail, but I’m not 100% on that.  In the endless search for new things to experiment with, ingredients, techniques, or kitchen toys, it’s a rare and beautiful thing to find one that’s illegal.  Unlike most countries in Europe, The US does not allow the import of Tonka Beans (at least those to be used in food preparation).  The general concern is that these seeds contain the chemical coumarin, which can act as a blood thinning agent.  Taken in large doses, it can be fatal.  Oddly enough, you would think it’d be important to define “large doses”, but I haven’t come across that yet.The best part is, when you google “Tonka Beans” the first few links describe how it is not allowed in the states, but the next few links are to online retailers willing to sell it to you.  My best guess is that such sales are intended only for use in perfumes, like those ‘water pipes’ they sell in student neighborhoods are “for tobacco use only.”

More importantly, some bloggers I trust have used Tonka Beans without being disappeared by the authorities.   Yet.

We were visiting family in NY this weekend though, and didn’t have access to an ice cream maker.  Rather than do something more elaborate, and with a bucket of farm fresh eggs on hand, it seemed easy enough to whip up some madeleines.  With willing partners in crime (much obliged, mom) it took all of 25 minutes to rip these out.  I don’t have the recipe we used, but any madeleine recipe available online would suffice.  We made lemon madeleines and simply replaced the vanilla extract with 2 grated beans. 

I expected something much closer to a cinnamon-vanilla flavor out of these, but at least to my untrained nose, it was almost closer to licorice.  Maybe we should have gone without the lemon, if only to get a clean flavor, but it still came through.  It was subtle at first, so for nothing more than poops and giggles and in the spirit of adventure, whipped up a little Tonka-Bean Glaze to drizzle on top.  (Nothing more than some milk – we were out of cream – with the left over Tonka nibs steeped in it, added to powdered sugar until it got the right consistency).

I liked it, but feel compromised as a judge, given how giddy I was when my beans came in the mail.  I’ll say this though, that much like the pink peppercorn ice cream, it would work great as a component in a more involved creation, than something that I’d order on its own. 

So that’s my story officers.  Do with me what you will now.

3 Responses to “Tonka Bean Madeleines”

  1. Velva said

    These madeleines are beautiful!!! I love the idea of using a bucket of fresh eggs :-) Cheers to the Tonka beans.

  2. Jeannie said

    Lovely madeleines! Would love to try it.

  3. pierre said

    hi i did not know that us did not allow tonka bean to be imported that is too bad as it is really delicious with the flavour of vanilla tobacco so amazing !! have a good day Pierre in Paris

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