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Chocolate Wontons And Tonka Bean Ice Cream

Chocolate Wontons

If I were to wait for the proper weather to bake certain desserts, I’d never get to turn the oven on or fry some donuts and the ice cream machine would be churning year round. Take Halloween day, it was near 90F pretty much all day long and yet I wanted to bake some fun goodies for the neighbors. We spent the day in short sleeves, going about the neighborhood with the kids steaming in their costumes. More than one of them thought ill of their parents for dressing them up as a furry teddy bear or a heavy padded alligator. I know these feelings disappeared when I brought down these hot Chocolate Wontons and a batch of Tonka Bean Ice Cream that we had with glasses of apple cider…on ice.

Years ago we used to have a different chocolate special everyday at the restaurant and certain mornings proved difficult to come up with a bright idea at 5am when I was hand deep into kneading baguettes. I remember opening Chocolate Passion by Timothy Moriarty and Tish Boyle with the assurance that I’d have a winner and often recommended it to patrons asking me for a recipe. When I stumbled upon Maury Rubin’s Book Of Tarts, I think I baked just about every one of them they were so creative.

Sometimes it’s a technique or a subject that makes me delve in a cookbook. Sometimes it’s the story behind its coming to life, an anedocte, the writing. Sometimes it’s the author and her/his journey. In short, something that moves me beyond the recipes (I have quite a head full of those already) which is the case with Jaden’s first cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, from which I made the chocolate wontons. Having shared a plane, meals, drinks, and a panel with her, I can tell you that Jaden is good people and I am extremely proud of her. I knew her book would be one I could open at any page and cook something new, delicious and fresh. All four recipes I have made so far were a hit with us and our friends.

Chocolate Wontons and Tonka Bean Ice Cream

If you were to come to my house you’d think I spend all my spare change on cookbooks. If you looked a little closer, you would see a fine print on most reading "preview copy", "press release copy", etc… About twice a week, the mailman makes the hike up to the front door and drops a new box on the porch. He also leaves a couple of doggie treats for the pupps. They know it, they go crazy until I get to the door. What do I do? I open the box, I flip through the book and get the post-its out. "This one will be great for friend S." or "This is one for R." and so forth.

I am very appreciative of this situation, believe me and I am under no obligation to review or pimp them out on this site. I know that a friend would benefit from a crockpot recipe book more than I will since I don’t own such a beast, or my baking-challenged friend S. might enjoy a basic dessert cookbook more than I will. But there are books I hoard, read, cook and bake from, hoard again, read some more and cook from until the hinges get worn out. Jaden’s book will be one of them.

I must give Jaden kuddos for the dessert section though she said it was tough to write. Her approach to dessert is very much what we like throughout the week: fresh fruits, easy to prepare frozen treats and the occasional splurge like the chocolate wontons. The headnotes say they will make little girls squeals and little boys break out into a disco dance (I am paraphrasing) and the neighbors' kids did just that on Halloween when I handed them out! I think I even saw a couple of adults shake their bootie in delight too!

Fried Chocolate Wontons

These are so easy to make and if you get an extra set of hands to help out, you can make a double batch in a flash. Plan on that as they disappear very fast! There is no need for a deep fryer and if you keep the oil at a steady 350F you end up with perfectly crisp, never oily wontons which chocolate center oozes out as you bite into them. I had planned to serve them with her Asian Pear Frozen Yogurt but we devoured that one too fast so I went with my own tonka bean ice cream instead. The almond and vanilla flavor of the tonka paired really well with the chocolate once again. (see recipe notes)

Chocolate Wontons, from The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, with permission of Jaden Hair

Makes 12

1 egg
1 tablespoon water
12 wonton wrappers
12 pieces of chocolates (I used about 4 chocolate chips per wonton)
high heat oil for frying (I used canola)
Powdered sugar for dusting

In a small bowl, make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and the water.
On a clean, dry surface, place a wrapper down with a point facing you. Place a piece of chocolate or chocolate chips near the top end of the wrapper. Brush a thin lauer of egg wash on the edges of the warpper. Fold the bottom corner up to create a triangle and press down at the edges to remove as much air from the middle as possible. Make sure the wrapper is sealed completely. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and chocolate pieces. Keep the prepared wontons covered with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel to prevent them from drying.
In a wok or medium pot (I used a 9-inch cast iron pan), heat about 2 inches of oil to 350F and gently slide a few wontons into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan as the oil temperature would lower too much and you would end up with grease-soggy wontons.
Fry 1 to 1 1/3 minutes on each side until both sides are golden crisp.
Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar

Tonka Bean Ice Cream:

Notes: Yes, tonka beans are banned from import in the US by the FDA, yet they are used by many countries in food preparation and desserts in particular. Consumed in large quantities, they can be toxic as they contain an anticoagulant which many blood thinning medications are based on, courmarin. So, it’s banned, but its main agent is used in meds here and you can purchase tonka beans on ebay. UGH?!! Gotta love the FDA and large medical companies politics. Since I use 2-3 beans a year in recipes that feed no less than 8 people each time, I know we are ok but research and educate yourself before cooking with tonka beans if you are interested.

By the way, if you have vanilla extract from South America in your pantry and wonder why it smells like a vanilla bean got too close to an almond one night, that’s probably because tonka beans were used instead of real vanilla or diluted with it to make it cheaper to sell. Nothing wrong with that if you are aware of all the facts.

Tonka beans smell like a cross between vanilla and almond extracts and if you can’t find or do not wish to use tonka beans, substitute with each extract in the ice cream recipe and you will get close to the actual flavor.

6 egg yolks
1 cup (100gr)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tonka bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla + 1/2 teaspoon almond extracts)

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar until pale and thick. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the milk, cream to a simmer, without letting it come to a full boil. With a microplane, grate the tonka bean right over the milk and cream simmering (I add the little knob left for extra flavor). Slowly pour the hot cream over the egg yolks mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream coats the back of spoon. It should register 170F on a candy thermometer. At this point you have made a custard sauce, also known as "creme anglaise". Let cool completely, strain and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.
Once and the custard is cold, process according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions.

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Alexandra November 7, 2009 um 7:36 am


Tonka beans sounds exotic! but while reading, all i could think about was a dateline investigation where a wife attempted to bump off her husband by poisoning him with tonka beans!

Mrs Multitasker November 7, 2009 um 7:46 am

Bonjour Helen! Je m'appelle Clare et je viens de Singapour. I chanced upon your website from another blog and am completely blown away by your beautiful pictures. Very inspired… Any suggestions as to how I can get around the problem of very minimal natural lighting in my apartment? Makes for very dull pictures…

Pei-Lin November 7, 2009 um 8:08 am

Hey Helene!

Seriously, as a Chinese, I'd never think of putting chocolate in wontons! I suppose they may be good, but I'm still not inclined to try them myself LOL!!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home November 7, 2009 um 8:09 am

Pretty and simple to make! I remember seeing Giada De Laurentiis make similar dessert won tons filled with Nutella 🙂

I'm most interested in the tonka bean ice cream. I tasted a South American chocolate with tonka bean a few months ago and fell in love.

Quinn November 7, 2009 um 8:30 am

Thank you for the educational post, Helen! I didn't know tonka beans could be toxic to our body when consumed in large quantities.

Also, just in case you're not aware, I kept seeing lotsa chinese comments in your blog. What's with all the chinese comments and what does it say?

maia @ sac à poche November 7, 2009 um 8:57 am

What an interesting recipe!!
the pictures are so beautiful!

Clumbsy Cookie November 7, 2009 um 9:13 am

Tonka bean is one of my favourite flavours of ice cream of all times!

Wendy November 7, 2009 um 9:18 am

I remember I used to make chocolate wontons as a kid too! Whenever my mum was making the savoury ones with prawns and pork, I'd grab a few wonton wrappers, find whatever chocolate we had in the fridge and slapped a few together, then nag my mum to deep fry my chocolate ones first! I shall make these sometime again, but with Jaden's recipe 🙂

Trissa November 7, 2009 um 9:30 am

You're so lucky to be able to get so many cookbooks – I tend to spend everything I can on cookbooks – they are so addicting! I've heard many good things about the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook from other sites as well – I will definitely add the book to my "list of things I want for Christmas!" The wontons look delicious!

Truc November 7, 2009 um 9:46 am

Gorgeous photos, as usual Helen! And the chocolate wontons looks so scrumptious.

Heather November 7, 2009 um 10:08 am

These wontons look delicious! At the risk of sounding ridiculous, what do you think would happen if I eggwashed and baked them in lieu of deep frying? Unmitigated disaster?

Jessica November 7, 2009 um 11:50 am

Beautiful. Looks so delicious.

astheroshe November 7, 2009 um 1:42 pm

wow..I found a molded chocolate candy made with Tonka beans! I was wondering what they were. Of course the Chef was from Japan who made them…thanks for the info 🙂 ..and i have some homework to do 🙂

Southern Gal November 7, 2009 um 1:43 pm

"If I were to wait for the proper weather to bake certain desserts, I'd never get to turn the oven on or fry some donuts and the ice cream machine would be churning year round."

Oh the joys of living in SC, eh?

Love your site and recipes.

tasteofbeirut November 7, 2009 um 1:43 pm

I love the idea of the chocolate wonton; there is a similar pastry in Lebanon but it is stuffed with semolina pudding. As for cookbooks I too have a very personal relationship with them! I have to like the author like a friend!

Kay November 7, 2009 um 1:51 pm

Hi! I love your stuff and I've even tried out a few recipes! Thank you for sharing! I'm Chinese and I just thought I'd let you know that chopsticks with the eating end left in food is sorta symbolic of food for the departed (Chinese culture). I'm not too fussed but I thought I'd let you know.

NKP November 7, 2009 um 1:52 pm

I am looking forward to Jaden's book too, I have heard so many great things about it.
Your dessert looks lovely – I've never tried tonka bean before.
Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

Hippo Flambe November 7, 2009 um 2:02 pm

As soon as I read Tonka Beans are banned here I knew I was in trouble. I seem to have a thing for foods that are banned because the FDA or a state thinks we cannot control ourselves. I don't do a lot of fancy cakes but I do have a container of dragées in my cupboard, if they are banned in CA I had to have them. Plus the flavor of the Tonka bean sounds intriguing.

So jealous of your cookbook collection. They are my weakness. Your blog is also beautifully written, I am always so happy to see you have a new post.


Helene November 7, 2009 um 2:16 pm

Mrs.Multitasker: you can use sets of cardboards to bounce the light back on your food, or reflectors as well as a few mirrors strategically placed. You can also invest a set of studio lights to use during dark days.

Dodol&Mochi: I hope you try them, they are delicious! If they are good enough for Jaden who is Asian, they're good enough for me!

Quinn: those are about 600 spam comments I got before I put the comment moderation on. I am still in the process of cleaning them up.

Heather: I baked a batch to see and while they were good, they did not puff up as much. The texture was not as light. If yuou keep your oil at a steady temperature, I guarantee you, it only takes 1-2 minutes to get non-greasy and perfectly cooked wontons.

Kay: thank you for the info. You must be thinking that on quite a few photographs with an aesthetic interpretation of an Asian recipe. Let's dedicate these to my late brother then.

Jen Yu November 7, 2009 um 2:32 pm

Well, dear! Since I am on a blood thinner, I think I could have a spoonful (or two) of the Tonka bean ice cream 🙂 I haven't seen the Tonka bean here in a while and I love it because I like saying "Tonka" and because you told me last year that it's a lovely flavor (and I always trust my Tartelette). I know I've fallen behind on comments… let's call it good and start over from here, no? ha ha! Those wontons were part of the Daring Cooks challenge last month (optional). Maybe you should join the DCs? 😉 pthhhhhhh! kidding. xxoo

Lauren November 7, 2009 um 3:00 pm

I've never had tonka beans, but they sound like they would be heavenly, especially in an ice cream =D.

Irina @ PastryPal November 7, 2009 um 3:06 pm

I love the stories you tell about the cookbooks. It does seem like some of them become glued to the hip. Though I have many myself, I keep turning to the same few over and over again. The wontons are so beautiful, and seem like such a fun treat to get at Halloween. I'm sure you made everyone's day.

Cakebrain November 7, 2009 um 4:02 pm

You are so fortunate to get so many preview copies of cookbooks! I work so that I can bake and buy cookbooks! Those are beautiful wontons and they look as if they would indeed pair well with ice cream.

Colloquial Cook November 7, 2009 um 5:59 pm

De la tonka dans la glace? Mais c'est du génie! Rien de moins 🙂 [check out my disco moves]

Anonymous November 7, 2009 um 6:00 pm


Jenny Tan November 7, 2009 um 6:06 pm

Oh, I wish I am qualify to review cookbooks like you! I have been purchasing them one at a time…some for reference, some to use over and over again, some I haven't even get to try out! 😛 There's just SO MANY recipes I wanna try, but just haven't got enough time and space in the tummy! LOL.

BTW, can I know where you live (just kidding)….so I can moved there next door to you! 😉 I'm sure my whole family would LOVE to be your neighbor! hehheehehe

mycookinghut November 7, 2009 um 8:06 pm

Looks really good!! I love the colour of the background and the crisp of the wonton!
Néanmoins, juste pour information, la facon dont sont plantes les baguettes signifie, pour les chinois, donner a manger aux morts, cela peut etre percu comme irrespectueux.

Helene November 7, 2009 um 9:17 pm

mycookinghut: I have heard of sticking chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice was considered impolite since done usually at funerals. The chopsticks here are in between the container and the paper, not in contact with the wontons.

toontz November 7, 2009 um 10:01 pm

I said it before, and I'll say it again, "Sure wish I was your neighbor!" Those wontons sound so good, and I agree – Jaden has some great recipes! All I got for Halloween was the leftovers (tootsie rolls and gross gummy things, ugh!) The chocolate was long gone when my kiddos got home, lol. That's what happens when they are older and start hoarding the chocolate….

Nutmeg Nanny November 7, 2009 um 10:46 pm

I'm in love with your pictures…so beautiful! This dessert looks awesome too:)

alice November 8, 2009 um 2:10 am

Stunning photos.. I can't wait to try this recipe!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) November 8, 2009 um 3:36 am

I've just used tonka beans for the first time. I got them in the mail from a blogging friend in Canada.

Lori November 8, 2009 um 3:50 am

Interesting Tonka beans. I lvoe to say that word. I didnt know anything about it.

Everything looks wonderful as usual.

El November 8, 2009 um 3:56 am

You have some lucky neighborhood kids. I would have loved it if someone served this on Halloween when I was growing up. They look delicious!

Danielle November 8, 2009 um 4:58 am

I grew up helping my mom make wontons for dinner and easily finished lots of them in a sitting. I think this chocolate version will go the same way too! thanks for sharing this and tempting me to get a copy of the cookbook 😉

♥peachkins♥ November 8, 2009 um 5:58 am

these looks good as a snack

Anonymous November 8, 2009 um 12:32 pm

Hey that's really nice posted something with tonka beans… I was considering using them for a dish at my birthday party last year, but then I didn't dare after all the reading I did in the internet. Besides, you can not buy them where I live, and no one seems to know what they are. But now I'll order them and experiment for sure!

16 windows November 8, 2009 um 3:11 pm

Oh I really wish I lived in your neighborhood:)

Rylan @ Art and Appetite November 8, 2009 um 5:04 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhh. Your pictures are amazing! SUPER SUPER SUPER Amazing.

I want to be as good as you! You are one great photographer.

Cannelle Et Vanille November 8, 2009 um 9:12 pm

I got my copy of Jaden's book yesterday and I can't wait to cook from it. So many sticky notes in bookmarked pages already. This is perfect for this Sunday afternoon!

anna November 9, 2009 um 1:22 am

Yum! Those looks great. You know I just made shortbread in class and it called for both vanilla and almond extracts – perhaps the original recipe contained tonka bean?

Julia @ Mélanger November 9, 2009 um 3:18 am

Helen, when I read articles like your post here, I am reminded why I bake.

I am totally addicted to baking books, and I probably do spend all my spare change on them. I love each and every single one. I think you put it so well about the motivation to read through a book. For me, sometimes it's simply the photographs. Or the story. Or the education. Or simply, to find a recipe. Sometimes, it's a combination of all these things.

Then I remember how something so potentially simple, a dessert, a bread, a cake, a biscuit, is really so much more than that. It's a constant source of inspiration. A constant source of enjoyment. There is always something new to learn.

I love the fact there are people, like yourself, that share so much about baking. About one of the biggest joys in my life.

shaz November 9, 2009 um 6:11 am

The wontons look delicious! Jaden's book is definitely on the wish list now. It was very interesting reading about tonka beans (never encountered them before).

Abby November 9, 2009 um 10:58 pm

Chocolate, fried dough and sugar. Be still my Southern heart!

Two fit and fun gals November 9, 2009 um 11:33 pm

these look delicious 🙂

Engineer Baker November 10, 2009 um 1:41 am

I cannot wait to get her book – she's definitely good people, so seeing her success is just too much fun. And now I have another use for my tonka beans – I keep forgetting I have them in the back of my baking pantry!

Y November 10, 2009 um 11:01 am

Save me a glass of iced apple cider, please! 🙂 Jaden's book sounds wonderful. Congrats to her!

oneordinaryday November 10, 2009 um 2:27 pm

Sounds like a great way to end a warm evening of trick-or-treating. We had a wet and rainy Halloween here, so I'm a bit envious.
Very interesting info on the tonka bean. I had actually never heard of it before so I'm finding it fascinating. Thanks for sharing!!

Anita November 10, 2009 um 9:13 pm

Thanks for the tonka bean info, it was quite interesting. Your suggested substitute flavours are very helpful.

momgateway November 11, 2009 um 5:38 am

Congratulations on your win at the Food Blogger Awards!

Ravenous Couple November 11, 2009 um 6:29 am

congratulations on for winning FB recognition…sorry we didn't meet..but now we've discovered your blog…fantastic! Looking forward to reading it in the future.

Damaris @Kitchen Corners November 11, 2009 um 7:13 am

love this recipe, sounds very delicious. The Tonka beans sound dangerous, I love it!

Pity November 11, 2009 um 6:21 pm

you've done it again, a delicious recipe and excellent photos, lovely!

BkrChk November 13, 2009 um 4:24 am

Oh wow! This looks amazing!!

Katie November 13, 2009 um 7:01 am

Wow these look fabulous!! Delicious flavours and they look so authentic

Rhonda November 14, 2009 um 8:13 pm

Wonderful pictures and anything chocolate is great – I want a couple of these. Love the info on the tonka beans, so interesting.

pastry studio November 20, 2009 um 4:53 pm

We once served Tonka Ice Cream in a fine dining restaurant kitchen until someone called the Health Department! It was absolutely delicious and unusual. Beautiful photos, as always!

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