Tonka Bean Ice Cream

I know it's not exactly ice cream weather these days but I feel like an exception to the No Ice Cream When It's Cold Out rule (do you have that rule too?) can be made. Tonka beans demand to be eaten year-round, even if they're in ice cream. If you're like, “tonka what?” Don't worry, I'll fill you in on what these tasty little things are. But first, let me stare at that drippy ice cream a minute longer.

Tonka Bean Ice Cream

Just look at all those delicious tonka bean shavings!

If you have yet to meet the acquaintance of one of these tasty things I hope this recipe will inspire you to hunt them down. 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's a teeny tiny bit of something that could harm you if eaten in massive quantities in here. The same goes for cinnamon and nutmeg though but those were passed by, maybe because they didn't seem so exotic and dangerous. Anyway, I have heard it is possible to get your hands on them but you will have to look a little harder. They'll be all the more rewarding when you find them.

So what do they taste like?

Vanilla and amaretto predominantly. The jar that they're in says they smell like hay too, but I can't detect that. They have a slightly sweet taste and they smell incredible.

This is like extra rich and luxurious vanilla ice cream with a hint of caramel flavour. I'm in love. ♥♥♥

Tonka Bean Ice Cream
Tonka Bean Ice Cream

Tonka Bean Ice Cream

Delicious tonka beans might be hard to find, but they're totally worth the hunt. Tonka bean ice cream really shows off its unique flavour!

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5 stars (13 ratings)
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  • 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. Once the custard has cooled cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave it in your fridge until it is completely cold, preferably overnight.
  • Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Grate a little extra tonka bean over top of the ice cream when you serve it.


Note: recipe time does not include the time it takes to chill or freeze the ice cream. 
Serving: 1 serving = ½ cup, Calories: 339kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 223mg, Sodium: 47mg, Potassium: 100mg, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 1108IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 90mg, Iron: 1mg
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