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Tonka Bean White Chocolate And Apricot Cakes

Ever since that little magic bean popped up on French blogs, I have been intrigued to try it. I had heard about it, seen it even smelled it but sourcing tonka beans here in the US was somewhat difficult, even five years ago, at least in my town (not that we are the culinary black hole of the universe). Nowadays, it is a little easier to locate but when my mother asked me what I wanted her to bring (along with the chocolate bars, silicone molds and other baking items I asked) I jumped at the chance to finally get a big bag of tonka bean at a relatively cheap price.
As soon as I opened the bag, the scents of vanilla and almonds wafted through the air and a little note of clove tickled my nose. I am telling you…magic….

You can use to infuse liquids such as creams and milk for flans, creme brulees, sauces, etc…or you can directly grate it with a microplane (easier) and directly add it to your preparation. I kept the little knobs I could not get through the grater and put them in a jar of sugar for instant flavor. If you are really gunho about not having little specks of tonka bean, I guess you could process them fine in a coffee grinder but I like my tonka to show, much like the seeds of vanilla beans. That reminds me of a woman dining at the restaurant one night and sent her vanilla bean creme brulee back to the kitchen. I asked the waitress what was wrong with it and she replied rolling her eyes to the ceiling (at the customer) "She said there was dirt in it"….Argh!!! I guess she would not wait vanilla bean ice cream either, eh?!

We have planned to drive to Winston-Salem, NC this weekend and spend some relaxing time visiting the town, with my parents, and thanks to a local, Abby of Confabulations In The Kitchen, I think we have a pretty good list of great places to see. I wish I could meet her in person and give her a great big hug, because she has saved me hours with her guidelines and recommendations, especially local delicacies, restaurants and of course bakeries! I wanted to pack some home baked goodies for the drive and immediately thought about mini cakes with grated tonka beans. I remembered a post titled (translated from the French): "A cake to die for", where the tonka bean was paired with apricots and white chocolate….I am a not a chocolate snob and as long as it is good quality I will eat all kinds. I was once again spoiled by one of my clients when she brought me a few bars of Valrhona chocolate from a recent trip to France. Well, by now you must know my theory: if all the ingredients are getting together like that, that means I must join the party!!

The cakes are quick and easy to come together and you can make a loaf cake or a round cake, possibilities are endless, and you can’t barely taste the white chocolate if you are not a fan. I would not take it away from the recipe though as it adds a little fudge feeling to cake. However, the biggest problem is that by the time we get in the car tomorrow, en route to Winston-Salem, there won’t be any left….it is absolutely the best mini cakes I have ever had! They are out of this world warm and a little denser and flavor concentrated at room temp. What the heck! They are even to dye for straight out of the fridge at 2 in the morning!
OK, I hear you, you may not have tonka beans available where you are, but a good substitute is to combine 1/2 tsp. each good quality vanilla and pure almond essence.

Tonka Bean White Chocolate and Apricot Cakes, (original recipe here)

Makes 8

1 1/2 sticks butter, melted and cooled

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup white chocolate, melted

3 large eggs

1/2 cup flour

2 tonka beans

15 dried apricots, cut in small dices

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and thick, about 2-3 minutes. Add the butter and chocolate. Whisk well and add the flour. Finely grate the tonka bean and add to the batter. Add the dried apricots and mix until incorporated. Divide evenly between muffin tins coated with cooking spray and cook for 15 minutes (longer if using a larger pan, about 20-25 minutes).

P.S: no internet connection for the next 4 days, so have a great weekend ya’ll and see you back next week!

Note: One commenter made me realise that I should put this info up about tonka beans:

"The coumarin active component (and why it is not found in food products in the US) is chemically similar to the active ingredient found in a common blood thinner called warfarin or Coumadin. This medication is commonly used to "thin out" blood and prevent clot formation. Patients on this medication have to have regular blood test since too much, may pose them at risk for bleeding and too little–risk for clot formation. The dose varies so regular blood work is the only thing that we can use to adjust the dose. You can imagine that there are a lot of drug interactions when patients are on this medication. There are also food interactions."

So folks. just like everything in life (but love and chocolate) use in moderation!

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Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 8:19 am

on touche au divin. Have a nice week end,
Caluski-bisous de l’est,

Truffle October 5, 2007 um 8:37 am

I’d love to get my hands on some of these. Your cakes look delightful!

Rosa's Yummy Yums October 5, 2007 um 8:49 am

Heavenly little cakes! They must taste really good…



CatR October 5, 2007 um 9:29 am

Oh wow! Quickly googled where I could get the delicious sounding tonka beans and interestingly, as well as the gourmet food merchants, places like the enchanted gift shop sell them as an "ingredient or substitute for magick spells and formulas related to Venus matters".

Nabeela October 5, 2007 um 10:07 am

The mini cakes look delightful!

Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 11:38 am

I’ve never heard of tonka beans! What do they look like??

MyKitchenInHalfCups October 5, 2007 um 11:41 am

Magic is just the very best. I must try these!
Funny I’m going to the beach with no internet for about four days.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) October 5, 2007 um 11:45 am

I’ve never heard of tonka beans — thank you for introducing me to them, and in such a lovely little cake!

Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 12:36 pm

I’ve been dying to get my hands on some tonka beans for ages now… And only more so now, seeing those delicious cakes!

Helene October 5, 2007 um 12:47 pm

Dana: one of the words "tonka bean" is hot linked to Wikipedia where you will see a picture. I am having a hard time finding the words this morning.

Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 2:02 pm

Thanks for the link :).

Deborah October 5, 2007 um 3:13 pm

I had never heard of tonka beans before, but now I want some!! These cakes look and sound amazing!

Aimée October 5, 2007 um 3:27 pm

These look darling. what a fantastic combination. I like to grate some tonka into my gingersnap cookies for some extra kick. Love that bean!

Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 4:53 pm

After reading the wikipedia article, I’m not sure I’d want to use it, no matter how great the flavor.

Abby October 5, 2007 um 6:38 pm

Oh, how tempting!

We WILL get together one of these days. I promise! I hope you have a fabulous time here – the weather is beautiful today!

Tonka beans – makes me giggle. I imagine little bitty yellow tonka trunks. Hmmmm. That would make cute cupcakes!

Anita October 5, 2007 um 9:43 pm

What a great and informative article – I had never heard of tonka beans before either – and your cakes look so delicious, I’ll have to try and find some myself!

Nora B. October 5, 2007 um 10:23 pm

I am missing out by not understanding French. These tonka beans sounds like a dream – a combination of vanilla and almond, wow! Your cakes look delicious.

have fun with your parents!

Anonymous October 5, 2007 um 11:45 pm

Those are awesome! You’re too talented, do you know that? What a flavor combination!

Anh October 6, 2007 um 12:30 am

Exotic combination. I have to search for tonka bean now!!

Anonymous October 6, 2007 um 4:13 am

Why do you taunt me with wonderful ingredients that aren’t available here? Perhaps you should start an importing business. I can imagine you’d have not trouble finding customers who’d queue up to buy tonka beans!

Anonymous October 6, 2007 um 4:53 am

Hi! Your macarons all look really lovely and I follwed your recipe for the one using italian meringue but the feet of my macaron ended up lopsided and only appeared on half of the macaron and the other half is flat? Do u know what I did wrong? Thanks for your help!!!

monica October 6, 2007 um 6:38 am

wow it’s so interesting when i see "home" cooks (even though you professionally do pastry) use tonka bean. and i love it! it’s such a familiar, yet intriguing flavor, and i’m so glad that you are able to introduce it to people! so excited to try this cake…

african vanielje October 6, 2007 um 3:30 pm

Okay, I have GOT to stop visiting here. Another thing to add to my must have list

Mallow October 6, 2007 um 3:45 pm

Very intriguing – I’ve never even heard of them!

lululu October 6, 2007 um 10:22 pm

Such a simple but delicate cake!!!!

I was just wondering if I could replace apricot with caramelized apple slices?

Valentina October 6, 2007 um 11:21 pm

I did miss your posts – beautiful photoes and wonderful selection of recipes. tonga beans..this is new to me. i am going to do a bit of researched inspired by your writing.

Valentina October 6, 2007 um 11:22 pm

Sorry, I menat tonka beans

Anonymous October 7, 2007 um 6:17 am

cute little cakes!

Cynthia October 7, 2007 um 1:24 pm

Each day one learns something. I’ve heard of tonka beans before.

Big Boys Oven October 7, 2007 um 4:49 pm

So divine, so lovely…. will try to get some tonka bean!

Eva October 7, 2007 um 11:56 pm

What an interesting ingredient – I have to admit that I’ve never heard about it before. Need to do some research now…

Anonymous October 8, 2007 um 11:53 am

them tonka bean cakes sure look delightfully yummy. Perfect to take with you on a trip.

Sabra October 8, 2007 um 6:26 pm

Hi. These cakes sound delicious. I’ve never heard of tonka beans – they sound somewhat magical (I love secret ingredients!) and I was just thinking I should see if I can find some in my neighborhood – but then I read your Wikipedia link. What do you think about the health concerns? Thanks for your comments on my blog, btw – appreciate it! : )


Anonymous October 9, 2007 um 2:52 am

how cool, i never heard of a tonka bean before. sounds delicious as do these wonderful little cakes 🙂

ilingc October 9, 2007 um 8:18 am

I’ve never heard of tonka beans too. Vanilla and Almond did you say? Well, I think I shall give it a go too.

Enjoy your trip!

Helene October 9, 2007 um 11:43 am

Thnak you all for your comments.
I notice that some were worried about the health concerns after reading the Wikipidia link. I think that grating one bean once in a while in a pastry is not going to hurt me. Just like in everything, moderation is key.

Anonymous October 9, 2007 um 1:22 pm

I sent u an email regarding a macaron problem I have, I really hope u can reply me because i want to sell the macaron for my school’s bakesale to raise funds for a Old Folks Home,


thepassionatecook October 9, 2007 um 2:53 pm

wonderful, wonderful. i’ve never come across tonka beans, but they sound like a great thing to buy. will keep an eye out for them. your cakes look delectable, as usual – drooling over the keyboard. have fun on your trip!

Helene October 9, 2007 um 6:43 pm

Felicia: Sorry sweetie but I just got back from a 4 day weekend and I am still ploughing through 300 emails. Hope it’s ok if I answer toight or tomorrow.

Lesley October 9, 2007 um 8:19 pm

Oooh, that looks good! Tonka beans, that’s new for me. My problem with mini cakes is that they seem less dangerous than a large cake…and I eat more! This recipe looks great.

Mamina October 10, 2007 um 1:55 pm

J’ai essayé de répondre à ton mail en direct, il m’est revenue en postmaster… As-tu une explication? A bientôt, j’espère.

Anonymous October 10, 2007 um 7:49 pm

Hi Tartelette. First, BIG fan of your blog. I love everything related to baking and have enjoyed many of your posts. I am also a clinical pharmacist and wanted to alert you and possibly other readers about tonko beans. The coumarin active component (and why it is not found in food products in the US) is chemically similar to the active ingredient found in a common blood thinner called warfarin or Coumadin. This medication is commonly used to "thin out" blood and prevent clot formation. Patients on this medication have to have regular blood test since too much, may pose them at risk for bleeding and too little–risk for clot formation. The dose varies so regular blood work is the only thing that we can use to adjust the dose. You can imagine that there are a lot of drug interactions when patients are on this medication. There are also food interactions. I think that people need to be aware of this. Your reference to it just reminds me to alert my other providers to mention about it to their patients. Just wanted to let you know.

Helene October 10, 2007 um 8:02 pm

Thanks Anonymous: I knew the info but your posting reminded me that I should post a note about it at the bottom of the post. The way I see it is that 1 or 2 grated tonka beans in a cake that seves 12 and eaten at the most once every 2 month is relatively innocent but I certainly "trust" that people would not abuse of it. Thanks again!

lena January 2, 2008 um 11:26 am

It’s urgent for me! How much white choco in gramms? Not in cup

Debra March 28, 2008 um 12:19 pm

This comment has been removed by the author.

Debra March 28, 2008 um 12:21 pm

These are dense & rich and taste like mini pound cakes to me. Thank you for sharing the recipe & your results. 🙂

Anonymous January 15, 2009 um 3:26 am

Wow! Ils sont incroyables ces petits gateaux. Je les ai essaye hier et je suis encore sous le charme. Merci! 🙂

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