The Tonka Bean is the most controversial flavouring in north america. It is illegal throughout the United States, and has strict punishments attached to it for possession. Although it can be found in high end restaurants, American chefs are skating on thin ice. Why is it illegal? Its all because of a chemical compound called coumarin that was banned by the FDA in 1954. Consuming high levels of coumarin was found to be linked to liver damage in rats. At the time this substance was being used in excess in packaged food products like cream soda and synthetic vanilla flavourings so it was removed from the market due to health implications. But in the case of the tonka bean, one tiny bean can be enough to flavour 4 liters of liquid, 80 servings, or in our case 1 double batch of ice cream. For the tonka bean to reach toxic levels you would have to consume 80 beans in one sitting which is very likely impossible.
Luckily, I am in Canada, a land where there is no such ban on the wonderful flavouring agent.
Tonka beans originate from central and south america and grow on trees. The trees produce wrinkly black beans with a brown interior and must be cooked and dried before using. The aroma of the tonka bean is similar to the flavour - smoky and full bodied with notes of toasted nuts, vanilla, dried fruits and caramel. Its a very interesting taste, with many different flavours associated with it, kinda of like picking out notes in fine wine or the 23 flavours in doctor pepper. The tonka bean is stimulating for both the taste buds and the mind.
For the ice cream, you will need some equipment -
- Stand up mixer with whisk attachment
- Digital Thermometer
- Metal Bowl
- Freezer safe container
No -Churn Tonka Bean Ice Cream
1/2 Tonka Bean, finely shaved
10 Egg Yolks
1. Separate 10 eggs and put them into the bowl of a stand up mixer.
2. Grate 2 tonka beans with a fine micro plane into the egg yolks. The tonka bean should be very fine so there is no grit in the ice cream
3. Start whipping your egg yolks with a whisk in the mixer on medium high speed (6 -8).
4. Heat sugar and water to 116 Celcius, and slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg yolks while whisking on medium high speed. Continue to whisk until egg yolks are thick and pale. The yolks should be at ribbon stage - they will briefly hold there shape. This will take about 10 minutes and the egg mixture should be cool to the touch when finished.
5. While the eggs are whipping up, measure out your cream and whip to stiff peaks in a metal bowl. I suggest doing this by hand because the mixer will be busy. Or you can whip the cream in the mixer first, and keep it in the fridge while the egg yolks are working.
6. Fold the whipped yolks into the whipped cream 1/3 at a time. Freeze in a freezer safe container over night. The next day your ice cream will be ready!
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