The Tonca Bean is the seed of a butterfly flower plant, the Tonka tree, which is native to the Caribbean and South America. The Tonka beans are extracted from by the Tonka fruits and are then dried. But before they are dried, they get a day bath in rum, which reduces the high coumarin content of the bean. Tonka fruits are oval, yellow, 10 cm long and resemble a mango, with just one seed. Its pulp is sticky, tasteless and smells bad. The seeds, however, are the fragrant, almond-shaped, dark brown to black, 3-6 cm long tonka beans.
The aroma of tonca beans
The aroma of tonka beans is sweet and reminiscent of vanilla, bitter almond and woodruff. It is very complex and intense. It is used mostly as a vanilla substitute, with a slightly bitter taste compared to vanilla. The Tonka bean belongs to the varieties of intensive spices and should be used sparingly. It also has a high coumarin content, which is responsible for the intensity of the spice. Coumarin should not be consumed in large quantities. About 2 mg per kg of food is classified as harmless. The tonka bean is a spice of the star chefs.
How is it used?
The tonka bean is a hard seed, which, like the nutmeg, is best used sparingly with a spice grater. To aromatize your food creations, usually a pinch or a maximum of a knife tip is sufficient.
The tonca bean actually goes well with all desserts, whether on whipped cream or in cocoa or more complex as in the upscale gastronomy. Today, many star chefs’ desserts are refined with tonka beans, such as mango sorbet, pistachio cream or fruit compote. It goes well with sorbet, chocolate, Christmas cookies, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, and marzipan. It also refines a tomato soup or tomato sauce with its unique aroma. The tonka bean is very intense and also goes well with intensive dishes such as venison (venison, deer or wild boar). Try a variant of Crème Brulée with Tonca Bean. Simply prepare a Tonka bean in the milk cream mixture while preparing the crème. This gives the cream an extraordinary aroma. After that, you can remove and dry the tonka bean. It can be used for 4 more uses of this kind and is sufficiently aromatic.
Storage: It is best to keep the tonka beans cool, dry, airtight and protected from the sun.
Perfumery Industry: The coumarin content is responsible for the intense scent of the tonka beans, which makes them highly sought after by the perfume industry for the production of fragrances.
The tonka bean, or the ingredient coumarin, is also used as a substitute for real vanilla because of its vanilla-like taste under the name "Mexican vanilla". The use of the plant for food preparation was temporarily prohibited in Germany from 1981 onwards. Since 1991, this prohibition exists in a limited form. The use of tonka beans is only permitted if the maximum permitted levels of coumarin in the prepared food are not exceeded. According to Annex 4 to Section 2 (3) of the Flavorings Ordinance, these are currently 2 mg per kg. These limits apply to coumarin as a food additive, but not when used as a flavoring, such as in perfumes or candles.