Friday, April 8, 2011

Artisan du Chocolat: Tonka (shhhhh...) Bar

I occasionally hear people say that a particular culinary creation is “so good that it should be illegal.” Sometimes, such statements are made in reference to chocolate.

Sometimes, the chocolate is, actually, possibly illegal in the U.S. Such as with chocolate bars that include tonka, like the Artisan du Chocolat Tonka Fusion bar, a 40% cocoa milk-chocolate based bar that is made in Great Britain.

Just don’t ask me where I got it. I fear intensive federal investigation. But why? Tonka cannot be legally sold in food products in the U.S. because of liver toxicity concerns should it be consumed in large quantities. It’s unfortunate, because according to the package of this bar, the tonka bean can be used to achieve a flavor similar to that of vanilla, which I would imagine some professional and amateur bakers could use quite well.

The package also notes that bean itself is grown in South America, “particularly in Mexico.”

Right. Perhaps the folks at Artisan du Chocolat need a map.

But I’m not too concerned about their geography skills. I’m concerned about their chocolate-making skills; I therefore quickly unwrapped the bar to assess those and was greeted with an aroma of vanilla enhanced by a mild cinnamon note.

The chocolate is quite soft with a smooth melt, and the vanilla- and cinnamon-like flavors of the tonka bean are immediately evident, with a bit of a caramel flavor often found in milk chocolate in the background. I’d prefer that the bar involve a bit more chocolate flavor such that the tonka didn’t overwhelm the bar, but the tonka flavor is superb, so I can forgive the lack of balance enough to procure some more of these bars.

Just don’t tell the police. Keep it a secret among me, you, and anybody who happens to have internet access.

Have you ever had tonka before? Where did you get it?


  1. Hmm. I'm pretty sure I've had tonka bean ice cream before, but I'm unsure where. Perhaps it was tonka bean gelato while in Italy? It was pretty tasty, wherever it was (although I guess it didn't leave much of an impression).

    Some of Artisan du Chocolat's other flavors look really interesting, neat find!

  2. I've had tonka in Thornton's version before, but didn't really think it was unique enough to justify all the hype. I also am scoffing at the American illegality thing. Didn't your crazy country also ban vegemite and kinder surprises?! (Must. Not. Mention. Guns... :P )

  3. I've never had tonka but this makes me think I'd really like it. I love cinnamon but I've also never had it in chocolate. I really want to come visit you and your palace of chocolate.

  4. Hahaha, Mexico in South America. Label fail.

    I've never heard of tonka before. All it makes me think of is my high school, Minnetonka, which everyone calls Tonka for short :)

  5. Tonka Trucks = what I thought when I saw the title....yeah, I didn't know what it was. Sounds nice, though! Isn't alcohol toxic to the liver if consumed in large quantities? Just saying...

  6. This looks dangerously delicious. Thanks for writing about it.

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