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)
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!