Tonka Bean Peaches & Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I thought I’d inaugurate my return to the blogosphere with a souvenir from France that could result in some serious jail time.

One of my many acquisitions from our recent trip to France, these tonka beans are in fact banned from the U.S. by the Federal Drug Administration. Yes, I live life on the wild side. One point for Culinary Musings and zero for U.S. Customs! And in the event this turns around and bites me in the ass, who wants to bake me a cake with a file in it?

I procured my contraband from a little ├ępicerie located along the cobblestone streets of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Basque country. We came here on our trip last year and I was charmed by the picturesque buildings, geranium-filled windows and gorgeous views of the Pays Basque.

As if it wasn’t alluring enough to warrant another visit this time around, his mom told me about this tiny little shop that sold exotic spices.

Let me introduce to you the incredible, edible tonka bean.

Banned from U.S. because it contains coumarin, a natural blood anticoagulant, large doses of this tonka bean can be dangerous. But I’m not telling you to pop handfuls of these things in your mouth everyday. And guess what? Cinnamon contains coumarin too. Go figure.

Tonka beans hail from the tropical regions of South America and are commonly used as a substitute for vanilla even though it actually combines the aromas of almond, cinnamon and cloves as well. Many vanilla-scented cosmetic products are most likely perfumed with these wrinkly little beans. Most importantly, adding it to your culinary tool belt brings your cuisine to gastronomical proportions.

And if you believe in all that voodoo schmoodoo stuff, tonka beans have also been used in love incantations. Hubba hubba!

So if you’re feeling dangerous, knock yourself out (not literally) with this sinful (literally) dessert!


6 peaches, cut in half and pitted
1 tonka bean (can be substituted with a vanilla bean)
1 Tbsp butter, melted
agave nectar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange peach halves on a baking pan with the flat side facing up. Brush tops with melted butter and use a microplane to grate a few sprinkles over the peaches. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until peaches are tender.
  3. Prior to serving, drizzle with agave nectar and top with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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