Tonka bean panna cotta & raspberry coulis

The most delicious ingredient you’ve never heard of… unless you’re cool, hip and with it…

Man do I love tonka beans, if I could I’d probably buy shares in them, they’re great in desserts and infuse perfectly with milk and cream to create a tasty pannacotta! The beans are about an inch-long, and resemble a woody raisin, with a lacquered, wrinkled exterior, and softer brown centre. The beans grow in south America, growing on the Cumaru tree.

Tonka beans are the perfect replacement for vanilla with a nutty, vanilla kind of almond taste to them. I’ve used them to make ice cream and custard just to name a few.

I was first introduced to them by a chef and I was instantly hooked, something a bit quirky and unheard of and they tasted great.  A little goes a long way, my jar of tonka beans has lasted ages! You use them just like you would nutmeg and grate them on a microplane.

This recipe is dead simple, it’s a basic panna cotta recipe with tonka beans infused into the milk and cream, with a perfectly set wobble, just what we’re looking for.


Tonka bean pannacotta
Serves 5
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 250 ml milk
  2. 250 ml cream
  3. 50 g caster sugar
  4. 1 tonka bean
  5. 2 gelatin leaves
  1. Firstly get the gelatin leaves and soak them in cold water to activate the gelatin.
  2. Grate the tonka beans into a sauce pan, add the cream, milk and sugar and bring up to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes at a low temperature. What we want to do is let the tonka bean flavour really infuse into the liquid.
  3. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve discarding any tonka bean debris.
  4. Put the pan of infused cream and milk back on the stove, add them gelatin, bring up to the boil, make sure the gelatin is whisked in. Then take it off the heat.
  5. Split evenly into dario molds, or you could set them in bowls and garnish in the bowls.
  6. Put in the fridge to set.
  1. To release the pannacotta's from the molds dip the bowl into a bit of boiling hot water for a few seconds, this should be enough heat to help pry them away from the mold.
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