Dense, moist and sweet crumb, the taste of almonds and intense aroma of the tonka bean… This cake will make you perfectly happy.
I made this cake a few years ago and loved it. Unfortunately with so many other cakes waiting to be baked I kind of forgot about this one. Every now and then, while searching in my notebook for something else, I stumbled upon this recipe again, and always thought that I should be making this again soon.
This Sunday it finally happened. Friends were coming and I wanted to make a cake. While searching for the ingredients I noticed that I was completely out of flour. Nothing there! I think that didn’t happen to me in years. Stores are closed on Sundays and I didn’t want to bother the neighbors. Suddenly I remembered this cake and the fact that it contains no flour. I had everything else, so in less than 15 minutes this cake was in the oven. And after getting cold it was eaten in a flash.
It was the first time that I used tonka beans. I had a few of them for quite a while in my spice cupboard but didn’t really know how to use them. The recipe actually called for cardamom and vanilla but I thought it was about time to use the tonka beans. And I am so glad I did. I had it once in ice cream in a restaurant and loved the aroma and thought it would fit perfectly in this cake. And it did!
You will not believe the intense aroma the tonka bean has. I only grated half of a small bean in this cake but the taste was so wonderfully intense, something like vanilla but stronger, like sweet flowers or some kind of heavy perfume, I cannot really describe it. You have to try it to really understand it.
The fingers of my right hand which were holding the bean while grating it retained this smell for hours and hours after baking although I had washed my hands several times in between. The whole kitchen kept this scent for two whole days. Amazing!
However while researching for this post I found out that tonka beans are actually illegal in the US. Crazy! If you wish to know more about that, read this article.
You can of course replace the tonka bean with a vanilla bean and a pinch of cardamom. It will still taste great and the texture will be the same, it is just a shame to miss the amazing taste and fragrance of the tonka bean.
Serves: 8-12 slices
- 200 g/ 7 oz almonds
- 150 g / ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 4 eggs
- ½ of a small tonka bean (see note)
- icing sugar, optional
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a spring form 24 cm/ 9.4 inch diameter with baking paper.
- Place the almonds in the food processor and process until finely ground. Do not over process, you do not want your almonds to turn to almond butter.
- Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
- In another bowl mix the almonds, egg yolks and honey together. Grate the tonka bean over this mixture and mix thoroughly. Add about ⅓ of the egg whites and incorporate well. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in very gently.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Leave to cool completely and sprinkle with icing sugar before serving.