Tonka Bean Carbonara

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Tonka bean carbonara. The Carbonara was one of the first pasta dishes that I learnt how to make. The thing I love about the Carbonara is how simple it is to make!

Long thin pasta such as spaghetti mixed in with pancetta, egg yolk and Parmesan cheese. Add a generous measure of cream and a good pinch of pepper and you have a simple yet stunning dish!

Not much has changed in the way I make this delicious dish. Except that I now add tonka bean and replace pancetta with bacon! Oh, and I also make homemade pasta these days!

Carbonara Origins

As with most dishes to come out of Italy, not much is know about the exact origins and history of this dish. Although the story isn’t quite as interesting as the tortellini story! Unfortunately there is no goddess, and there no peeping Tom who owns an Inn! (yes, that is the story, it’s your call whether or not you think it is true or not! catch the blog here).

The word carbonara first came about after the second world war. It first made an appearance in England (of all places!) in a an English cookbook in 1954. We could of claimed it as ours like the french did with the white sauce but we didn’t!

Previous to that, there was a dish that went by the name of ‘pasta alla gricia’. This dish was a dish made from bacon, cheese, pepper and pasta. Which is a dish that sounds a lot like a carbonara If you ask me!

Using the cream in a carbonara is a very ‘outside of Italy’ thing to do Apparently. Which if I’m honest, this is something I don’t care for! I mean if The Italians themselves can’t even agree on what goes into a Lasagne for instance! Why should i worry about whether cream goes into a carbonara or not? The answer to this is I shouldn’t!

Carbonara with tonka beans?

Tonka beans are illegal in the United States and have been since the 1950s. Although I still don’t know why? While it is true that they are mildly toxic, you still need to consume large amounts for any effects. Having said all that, America is one of the biggest importers of tonka beans, so go figure!

Adding Tonka bean to a carbonara will add a wonderful perfume flavour and aroma to the dish which the cream carries beautifully. The Cream also dampens down the saltiness of the bacon which helps to balance the dish out, with the cheese adding depth of flavour. This is a seriously good recipe!

Tonka Bean carbonara recipe

For this recipe you will need the following ingredients:

  • 120 grams of dried homemade pasta
  • 100ml single cream
  • 50 grams of parmesan
  • 8 Rashers of good quality streaky bacon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 of a tonka bean finely grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
slicing bacon

Light your stovetop and place a frying pan on low heat. Light a second stove ring and place a saucepan which is three-quarters full of boiled water. Add in a generous pinch of salt.

While you are waiting for you frying pan to heat up, slice your bacon into 2 cm wide slices.

cooking bacon

Place the bacon into the warm frying pan and allow the fat to render off of the bacon. Continue to cook the bacon in the rendered fat until it has crisped up.

adding cream to bacon

once the bacon has crisped up, add in the cream and reduce it to about half. This is now the base for your tonka bean carbonara.

cooking pasta

Place the dried pasta in the salted boiling water. taking care to stir the pasta to avoid the pasta sticking together.

parmasan cheese

Add in the parmesan cheese to the sauce base and stir in until the cheese has fully melted and the sauce has thickened up. Once the cheese has melted into the cream. 

Turn off the heat this is a very important step!

straining pasta

Once your pasta has cooked to your desired consistency (I prefere mine al denté), strain it off ready to mix into your tonka bean carbonara.

grated tonka bean

Using a very fine grater, grate the tonka bean into your sauce, use around a third of the tonka bean.

egg yolk pasta sauce

add in your egg yolk to the sauce. Working quickly, stir the egg yolk into the sauce. It should turn the sauce a lovely yellow colour.

This step is a little tricky but so long as you have cut the heat off and allowed the sauce to cool you will have no problem.

If the egg has scrambled then the sauce is useless, so take care!

Stir the pasta into the Tonka bean carbonara sauce until it has covered the pasta and serve right away with some extra grated parmesan cheese on top. Garnish with a basil leaf.

All that is left now is to sit down and enjoy this lovely meal with your partner, friends or just on your own.

I really hope you enjoy this dish, let me know your thoughts in the comments box below!

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