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Tonka bean ice cream is the richest and creamiest ice cream base flavored with delicious tonka beans. It's one of our all-time favorite ice cream flavors. You'll love it!
If you've never tried tonka beans, you should change that asap! They are a wonderful spice to add to your pantry. And since you buy tonka beans whole and grate them when you use them, they stay fresh for a very long time.
Tonka bean ice cream is our absolute favorite way to use this special spice. Our recipe makes the most incredibly creamy ice cream with lots of tonka bean flavor. It is like extra rich and luxurious vanilla ice cream with a hint of caramel flavor.
What are tonka beans?
Tonka beans are a spice from South America. They are the dried seeds of a kumaru tree and look a little like a large raisin. Tonka beans are sold whole and you grate them into recipes, as you would nutmeg.
Are tonka beans illegal?
Be warned: it is not likely to be an easy hunt, especially if you live in the United States. For some reason back in the '50s, the No-Fun-Police got wind that there is a teeny tiny bit of coumarin in tonka beans, which could harm you if eaten in massive quantities. The same goes for cinnamon and nutmeg though but those were passed by, maybe because they didn't seem so exotic and dangerous. You'd need to eat about thirty whole tonka beans before they would be harmful. This entire tonka bean ice cream recipe contains only one.
Where can you buy tonka beans?
It used to be quite difficult to buy tonka beans outside of Europe. But thanks to Amazon, it's easy to source them in North America now, too. You can buy them online or ask your local specialty food store if they can help you source some.
What do tonka beans taste like?
Tonka beans taste a lot like vanilla and amaretto. Some people say that they taste a little like sweet hay, too. It's a truly unique spice that tastes sweet and smells incredible.
- Whole milk – Don't be tempted to use lower-fat milk as it will result in icy ice cream.
- Sea salt – Brings out all the wonderful flavors.
- Tonka bean – The star of this tonka bean ice cream recipe!
- Egg yolks – We use 6 egg yolks for the most luxuriously creamy ice cream.
- Granulated sugar – You can also use brown sugar for a malty flavor.
- Heavy cream – Real whipping cream makes the dreamiest ice cream.
- Vanilla extract – To complement the tonka bean flavor.
How to make tonka bean ice cream
- Start by infusing the milk with tonka bean. Simply grate the tonka bean into the milk, heat it until it's steamy, then let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Now whisk the egg yolks and sugar then add some of the warm milk to temper the eggs.
- Pour the tempered eggs into the pot with the milk and cook the custard until it becomes thick and creamy. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the cream and vanilla.
- Now you'll want to strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve. This is to remove any egg that may have scrambled in the pot.
- Keep the custard in a bowl in your fridge until it is completely cold. We like to whisk it every so often to speed up the process.
- Once the custard is cold, process it in your ice cream maker then transfer it to a freezer-proof container and put it into your freezer until it's firm. That's it! You just made tonka bean ice cream!
How long does tonka bean ice cream last in the freezer?
Homemade ice cream will keep for 1 month in an airtight container in your fridge. But we've found that the flavor and texture are best if eaten within 2 weeks.
Can I add extra tonka bean for more flavor?
You can, but it's really not necessary. This ice cream has tons of tonka bean flavor!
Where can I buy tonka beans?
Your best bet is to buy them online. You can also ask a specialty grocery store if they can source them for you.
Can I make this recipe without an ice cream maker?
You can turn this into no-churn ice cream by pouring the cold custard into a shallow dish and freezing it. Every half an hour, take the dish out of the freezer and scrape and mix it with a fork. It won't be quite as creamy and smooth, but it will still taste delicious!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 Tonka bean (plus extra for serving)
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Place the milk and sea salt in a medium-sized pot. Grate the tonka bean using a fine grater (a Microplane works the best for this) into the pot. Heat the milk over medium-high heat until it is steaming but not boiling. Let the milk stand for 15 minutes to infuse.1 cup whole milk, 1 pinch sea salt, 1 Tonka bean
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Add a little of the warm milk to the egg yolks and stir it well to temper the eggs. (If you pour the eggs directly into the hot liquid you will end up with scrambled eggs. Tempering them with a little of the hot milk helps prevent this.)6 large egg yolks, ¾ cup granulated sugar
- Slowly add the tempered eggs to the warm milk while stirring constantly. Place the pot on medium-low heat and stir it constantly until it thickens. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.2 cups heavy cream, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium-sized bowl. (This is to get out any bits of eggs that might have scrambled on the bottom of your pot.)
- Place the bowl in your fridge and give it a stir every 10 minutes or so until it is no longer hot, about a half hour. Leave it in your fridge until it is completely cold, at least 2 hours.
- Churn the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container (like a loaf pan) and freeze it until firm. Grate a little extra tonka bean over top of the ice cream when you serve it.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.