Créme Brûlée with Tonka Bean

Crème brûlée is wonderfully easy to make and yet, it never fails to please. While the classic version is made with vanilla, I love experimenting with different flavorings. This one is with tonic bean – not entirely unlike vanilla, but with warm woody notes and a hint of spiciness. – Simply delicious!

Note: I learned when preparing this post that tonic bean apparently has some toxic substance, although it appears you have to eat quite a lot of it to fall seriously ill. Anyway – if you have concerns, you might as well put the whole bean into the milk and remove it after boiling. It will release a lot of its flavor that way as well. In my blissful ignorance, I consumed the dessert prepared in accordance with the recipe as posted below, and even if I concentrate, I cannot feel my knees weakening, yet… 😉


Ingredients (for 2-3 servings):

  • 200 ml of cream
  • 50 ml of full-fat milk
  • 1 tonka bean
  • 75 grams of caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolk
  • For serving: 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar
  • For decoration (optional): pomegranate beads, crumbled meringue


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
  2. Mix the cream and the milk in a saucepan. Grind the tonic bean in a mortar and add to the milk and cream mix.
  3. Bring the milk and cream mix to boil. Take off the stove and let cool down a bit.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and the sugar until creamy.
  5. Gently fold in the milk and cream mix, starting with a few spoonfuls, and then bit by bit mix in the rest. Stir the mixture gently to prevent the formation of foam.
  6. Fill the mixture into 2-3 flat oven-proof serving dishes.
  7. Before putting the dishes into the oven, prepare a water-bath by pouring boiling water into an oven tray placed directly under the grate on which you place the dishes with the Crème Brûlée. Then place the dishes with the crème brûlée on the grate.
  8. Allow the cream to thicken slowly by giving it at least 1 hour of oven time. Check regularly that your cream is not getting too solid, otherwise reduce the oven temperature a bit. If the cream is still very liquid at the end of one hour of oven time, increase the oven temperature to 120 degrees Celsius and give it another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven as soon as the edges begin to brown.
  9. Allow to cool off a bit, then place in the fridge for approximately 2 hours.
  10. Before serving, sprinkle the crème brûlée with caster sugar and caramelize under a blow-torch.
  11. Decorate with a few pomegranate beads and pieces of crumbled meringue and serve immediately.

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