Tonka Bean Shortbread

I know, it’s not exactly shortbread season. (It should be – there are few better accessories to fresh berries.) There was a bake sale this weekend awhile ago – a fundraiser I forgot to tell you about. It was on the eve of heading to Vancouver, and so I didn’t throw myself into it as I otherwise would have. I looked for easy stuff, like truffles and shortbread, flavoured with cocoa nibs and lavender and tonka beans. And then I forgot to share them with you.

Because I’m all about using up what I have, I took a leftover chunk of sponge toffee (I know – weird, huh?) off the top of the fridge, chopped it up, and stirred it into shortbread dough too. The butter-sugar-flour makes a snappy, buttery vehicle for all manner of ingredients. Seriously! Try it.

Tonka beans are shrively and black, like a thin, firm prune with a solid tan interior. Its flavour is reminiscent of vanilla and almonds, and if you can get your hands on some, they’re best used finely ground (use a sharp grater or Microplane) in a vehicle that will put them on a pedestal – like the plainest shortbread.

Tonka Bean Shortbread

AuthorJulie

Yields1 Serving

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. finely grated Tonka bean (optional - experiment with different spices, too!)

1

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.

2

Add the flour and grated Tonka bean and stir just until you have a soft dough. Shape it into two logs, wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or up to a few days) or freeze for up to 6 months.

3

When ready to bake, slice 1/4" thick and bake on a parchment-lined sheet at 350F for 15 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

4

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients

 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
 2/3 cup sugar
 1/2 tsp. salt
 1 egg yolk
 1 tsp. vanilla
 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1/2 tsp. finely grated Tonka bean (optional - experiment with different spices, too!)

Directions

1

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla.

2

Add the flour and grated Tonka bean and stir just until you have a soft dough. Shape it into two logs, wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or up to a few days) or freeze for up to 6 months.

3

When ready to bake, slice 1/4" thick and bake on a parchment-lined sheet at 350F for 15 minutes, or until pale golden around the edges.

4

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tonka Bean Shortbread
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12 comments on “Tonka Bean Shortbread

  1. Todd
    May 15, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Agreed on shortbread as a vessel for fresh fruit. I love the more biscuit-y kind for strawberries… we grew up with it as a summer treat.

    I also love the slice and bake concept on this– and I’ve never heard of/tried tonka beans. Thanks!

  2. Laurie from Burnaby
    May 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I’ve never heard of tonka beans before. I love the shortbread, and the slice and bake concept. I have to be sparing with shortbread or I’ll eat it all

  3. Erica B.
    May 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Vanilla and almond eh? Sounds delicious Julie, Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Kim
    May 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Great new use for my tonka beans! Thanks!

  5. Jen
    May 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I see that you got your tonka beans from the same place in Calgary. I like using them in my baking and you only need a little bit.

  6. zoetic * epics
    May 17, 2012 at 6:01 am

    amazing photos and recipes!

  7. kickpleat
    May 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Yum! I’ve never tried tonka beans and I love the sound as a cross between vanilla and almond (to extracts that I sometimes mix in baked goods).

  8. Ashley
    May 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I wondered why I’d never heard of tonka beans so I looked it up. It’s because they are banned in food in the US due to adverse reactions with anticoagulants. I guess not in Canada though!

    • Minnie
      May 27, 2023 at 9:49 am

      They are available in the US (got mine on Amazon). As long as you don’t eat eighty of them in one sitting, it’s fine.

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    November 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm

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  10. Heather
    October 10, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Best shortbread ever. I took some to a work function, and people inhaled it. I love Silk Road Spice Merchants, and already had the tonka beans! They’re also really nice in coffee – add a whole one to your filter basket when you’re brewing a pot.

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