Apple Streusel Muffins with Tonka Bean

This weekend we had a friend over for a visit and made a little tour through our neighbourhood. This was how we found an awesome new spice shop that carries every single spice or spice mix I could wish for and usually have to order online. Chipotles, hickory smoked salt, smoked paprika, etc. When we wanted to pay, we saw a glass jar with wrinkled black beans. They were labeled as “tonka beans”.

P. and I had heard about these little beans before, we had even eaten them before. They are a spice and often used as a substitute for vanilla. Which is a shame because they have a complex smell and flavour that can be very different from vanilla. For example, I could smell both bitter almond and woodruff. The smell also reminded me of certain perfumes and indeed, tonka beans are used in perfumes.

Tonka beans contain coumarin, an ingredient which is also found in woodruff or cassia (in Germany often used and sold as cinnamon). High amounts of coumarin can cause health problems and products containing coumarin are banned in the USA. The tonka bean is banned, too as it was in Germany until 1991. We still have regulations for the use of tonka beans and other products that contain coumarin (e. g. cassia) in food. Therefore it is really hard to find and I was very amazed to find it in a spice shop, where by the way, they where sold by the bean. So you don’t have to worry about my health. We only bought a single tonka bean and I used only half of it for these muffins.

To use tonka beans you can either boil and steep them in milk or you can grate them like nutmeg and add them to your food.

This was the first time I used a tonka bean and I decided to grate half a bean to add it to the muffin batter. Next time I would probably add more. For those of you who don’t have access to it, use 1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead of the tonka bean.


Apple Streusel Muffins with Tonka Bean (12 muffins)

280 g chopped sour apples (1.5 medium)
1 tablespoon margarine

For the batter:
80 g (6 tablespoons) refined, non-hydrogenated coconut oil, melted
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
360 ml ( 1 1/2 cups) soy milk
300 g (2 1/2 cups) flour
2 tablespoons ground flax-seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 grated tonka bean
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the streusel topping:
40 g (3 tablespoons) margarine or coconut oil
40 g (1/3 cup) flour
40 g (3-4 tablespoons) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat margarine in a pan and fry the apples for about five minutes. Make sure they don’t fall apart. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Grease  muffin tins.

Combine coconut oil, sugar, and soy milk and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir briefly. Add apples and combine well.

Pour into the tins. (I filled mine all the way to the top.)

Combine all ingredients for the streusel topping and use your hands to form little crumbs. Sprinkle over muffin batter. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool for ten minutes before you remove the muffins from the tins.


  • 7 years ago

    Hi there. Lovely photos and entries! I love Germany! I’ve added you in my “Yummy Bloggers” section on my blog! :) Keep updating! xxx from Vienna

  • 7 years ago

    Streusel! I’m trying to reduce the amount of sweet stuff that I eat (mostly I eat lots of fruit) by focusing on vegetables, this recipe is making it hard for me to stick to 14-days with seriously reduced sugar consumption.

  • 7 years ago

    I havent ever cooked withTonka beans?! Very interesting! Your muffins look delicious, but when DOESNT your baked goods look amazing?!!!

  • 7 years ago

    How very true that we want what is forbidden! I desperately want to try tonka beans now, especially because of the almond flavor, since we avoid tree nuts.

    Lovely muffins, and you Germans can take pride in creating streusel for the baking world to enjoy!

  • 7 years ago

    Tonka beans are such a treat! I think I might still have some ground that was smuggled in for me… These muffins would be a great way to finally use it up.

  • mandy
    7 years ago

    These muffins look so yummy. I am always on the look out for new ideas and these tonka beans intrigue me. Am coming to Dresden next week, could you possibly send me the address of the shop, sounds like the sort of place I could spend ages poking around in.

  • 7 years ago

    Mmmm, those muffins look beautiful. I’ve never heard of tonka beans before, hmmm, i wonder if they’re banned in Canada. I may have to make a stop at my local spice merchant and do some investigating.

  • 7 years ago

    Wow, how interesting! I’m looking up other information on tonka beans. I haven’t even heard of them. Looks like a great use – can’t wait to see what you do with the other half!

  • 7 years ago

    I’ve never looked for tonka beans in the UK, but I shall keep an eye out from now on. Anything that has hints of vanilla, woodruff and bitter almond is a winner with me.

  • 7 years ago

    I feel like I may have heard of tonka beans before, but didn’t know a thing about them until reading this blog post. What an intriguing ingredient. The muffins sound SO good, by the way. I love streusel. Mmm

  • 7 years ago

    That apothecary shop sounds incredible. I wish I could try a tonka bean. It’s crazy that the U.S. bans things like tonka beans but allows harmful chemicals that are banned from use in most other countries. Do you have a square muffin tin?

    • 7 years ago

      Yes it is! And it is a US product, I think.

  • 7 years ago

    OMG, I’m going to die! I love streusel anything.
    Also, thanks for the additional background info on tonka beans. They’re quite fascinating, and I wish I could get them here.

  • 7 years ago

    Wow, how awesome to find a new ingredient to play with. I love stores with tonnes of fun herbs & spices.

  • 7 years ago

    So why are the beans banned in the US? There are so many other things out there that cause health problems that are commonly used in American cooking. I wish it were a little cooler so I could bake something, but we’re in the middle of a heat wave in Indiana.

  • 7 years ago

    I love how the muffins are square! Tonka bean? I have never heard of those before, I am on the lookout now.

  • 7 years ago


  • 7 years ago

    I’m fascinated by this tonka bean. the fact it’s not available in the States makes it all the more irresistible, of course.

  • Meagan
    7 years ago

    I’m so jealous that you get to live in Germany! ;) As an American transplanted in Denmark,it’s always such a struggle to find what I need. I mean,I don’t think there’s any chipotles or ancho chilies! I miss my spoiled New York life sometimes,but it does mean that one gets to become more creative. I really appreciate your blogs as they help me to see things differently,as opposed to most blogs or cookbooks where they are written from the American point of view where they often have everything they need at their fingertips. I will indeed go in search of these Tonka Beans,and hope to find them. If not,I will have to find some other way to make these wonderful-looking muffins. Hopefully I can find something more interesting than just vanilla bean! Thanks again for all of your great posts!

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