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.