Tonka Beans and Chestnut Blondies

Tonka Beans are pretty interesting little things.

Dipteryx odorata

Black and wrinkly on the outside, with a beige inside reminiscent of a nut, and an unmistakable aroma. They are in fact often used instead of vanilla. But everyone who has had my jar of them stuck under their nose the past few weeks has said the same thing… amaretto, almonds, cloves, mmmm!

In the US they are banned!


Well, these innocent looking South American beans contain coumarin, a substance that, in large quantities, may thin the blood and cause liver damage. However, this ban is a definite overreaction as you would have to consume quite a few to be at any kind of risk… and I don’t think anyone would want too many of them anyway, as they can be quite pungent. In France especially, and in many other European countries, they are all the rage. Famous chefs are enamoured and if you can get your hands on some I think you will be too.

So, what do you do with them?

I made chestnut blondies… the aroma is ideal for any kind of nutty dessert, and for adding to creams and panna cotta too, but I had this tin of chestnut puree begging to be put to use after sitting in my cupboard for months. Chestnut puree – your day has come! (It’s seasonal too!)

Chestnut Tonka Blondies

  • 100g (7 tbsps) butter
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g (1/2 lb) chestnut puree
  • ½ – ¾ Tonka bean finely grated  (OR 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 100g (1/2 cup) finely ground almonds
  • 50g (4 tbsps) plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 75g (½ cup) white choc chips

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F . Grease and flour a 23 x 30cm/9 x 12 inch brownie tin.

Beat the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs and then the chestnut puree. It will probably curdle, but that doesn’t matter. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds and fold in gently. Finally fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into baking tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until firm and golden.

Serve warm or cold, with a cup of tea!

As I couldn’t find anything online vaguely similar to what I had in mind, I was pleased that these chestnut tonka brownies turned out to be delicious. I suppose the addition of white chocolate helped! 😉 I only used half a tonka bean and the flavour was very distinct. You really don’t need much.


For more information on tonka beans, see here:

Click here for conversion tables:

22 thoughts on “Tonka Beans and Chestnut Blondies

  1. I’d never heard of Tonka beans before, but did a quick internet search and found somewhere to buy them. I have the chestnut puree, just need to get the beans and I’ll be making those blondies!

  2. I had a brief introduction to tonka beans in a pasty class I took. They had traveled from France by suitcase! The tonka beans also reminded me of almonds.I wish I had a stash to try your scrumptious Chestnut Blondies!

  3. Ooh, I just did a search and apparently we can buy tonka beans here in Canada – I definitely have to look for some and give them a try! I’d never heard of them before, either – thanks for the information!

    • Thanks Uta. I bought my Tonka Beans online via, so they are available here. I also found some delicious “Mandel-Tonka-Creme” from Rapunzel, the German health food producer. 😀

  4. Thanks for the lesson!
    They look yummy and now we know they smell awesome too!
    USA has many many laws to be sure but we have a few medical situations going on here that would CURL YOUR HAIR to be sure!
    We have the president for 4 more years
    US also made Smoking Weed legal in the States of Washington and Colorado the west will see a Housing Boom lol
    ps our state of NH will now be for the most part run by WOMAN 🙂

      • Exactly! Signs for most part are history over in our town good things as the winds are about to blow like crazy with snow 3 to 6 inches possible and then rains and come this weekend up into the 60’s very strange weather our world has these days

  5. Pingback: Flowery Prose link-a-thon – December 2012. | Flowery Prose

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