Tonka beans!

Tonka beans are slightly large legumes from South America with flavors so big, so unique, so daring that the United States’ government have declared it to be illegal. It is said to be a blood thinner but you would have to consume several tonka beans (about 30) before it would even begin to take any effect. One tonka bean shaved is enough to last for at least 80 plates! Nevertheless it has not stopped restaurants from using it as an ingredient to enhance their dishes, nor has it stopped people from using it in general. Once tonka beans are harvested, they are dried, soaked in rum for about 24 hours and dried again. When fermentation occurs, it causes a thin layer of crystals to form, and this produces the tonka bean famous flavor. The tonka bean has many layers of great flavors and is known for having many scents, those of vanilla, cherry, almond, clove and a bit of cinnamon. Just a little shaved over meats, or desserts like cookies and ice cream, can really take the flavors and bring out the very best of them! They are also really outstanding in smoothies, just a pinch of tonka can enhance the sweetness of fruits, like strawberries, mangos and pineapple. In Italy they have tonka bean truffles, and panna cotta, South America uses them with milk to create a sweet drink and in France it is used a lot in crème brûlées, sabayons and éclairs. Feeling a little courageous? Well try a little tonka bean in your next meal, and let the magic happen!