Carrot Cake Tonka Bean Cupcakes with Nougat Praline Buttercream

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Tonka beans are simply amazing,  with a flavour somewhere between vanilla, almond, and cinnamon, but also fruity and caramel like.  When used in a cold dish like ice cream the taste is like a vanilla caramel. When warm, like for instance with seafood (love it), it moves toward spiced vanilla.

I once had a lobster with a white wine tonka bean sauce that I still dream about today.

There are all sorts of warnings out there that Tonka beans can be toxic if consumed in high quantities, but after days of research I can assure you that you would really have to eat vast amounts of it, like 30 tonka beans or so. One tonka bean is generally enough for 4 to 6 recipes give or take and depending on what you are making, but to give you an idea. I use it like I do nutmeg and grate it over dishes. It contains some coumarin, but this is also found naturally in cinnamon, lavender and licorice for instance. And after all, alcohol is toxic too and no-one seems to mind. Did you know that even nutmeg is toxic in large amounts?

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The nougat buttercream is made with something sold here in Europe called Nut Nougat paste, it sold in block by brands like Dr. Oetker. Similar are pastes like Valrhona Almond & Hazelnut Praline Paste.

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Look how lush and creamy the buttercream looks!



⏰ Prep time : 20 minutes

🍝 Cooking time : 18-20 minutes,

🍴 Makes : 18



  • 1 and 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups white (spelt) flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin spice or cookie spice
  • 1/3 tsp. grated Tonka Bean
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cups grated carrots


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  1. Preheat oven to 350°F  / 175°C
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar,  oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together until combined . Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, grated tonka bean and spice together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula fold the ingredients together until just combined. Then, fold in the carrots and raisins.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin, lined with cupcake liners. About 3/4 full.
  5. Place on a rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 18 – 20 minutes.
  6. To check, insert a toothpick in the middle to see if it comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.



  • 2 cups Buttercream   
  • 150 g / 5 oz. Nut-Nougat-paste 
  • 25 g Hazelnut crocanti


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  1. Melt the nougat over low heat until it is completely soft. Let cool.
  2. While beating your buttercream, add the nougat paste slowly and beat until fully incorporated.
  3. Set aside until ready to use

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When the cupcakes are baked and cooled frost them with the Nougat buttercream.

I used a knife. Then sprinkle with Hazelnut Crocanti.

They freeze well too (unfrosted).


Myra XO



If you try this recipe let me know! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to snap a pic and tag it #thecookingspoonblog on instagram! You’ll make my day. ♥


12 thoughts on “Carrot Cake Tonka Bean Cupcakes with Nougat Praline Buttercream

  1. Tracey O'Brien says:

    Myra, I’ve never heard of Tonka beans! A flavour somewhere between vanilla, almond and cinnamon? Well, I’m sold. I am going to have to try and hunt them down. What an amazing discovery. The cupcakes looks absolutely gorgeous. And I didn’t realise nutmeg was toxic in large amounts but that would in no way deter me from using this fabulous spice.

    • The Cooking spoon says:

      Hi Tracey, thank you so much for your sweet comment. Yes Tonka beans are amazing, like nothing else you’ve ever tasted. They look a bit like an elongated coffee bean with the leathery texture of a vanilla pod. Am I still making sense? Either way, definitely try to get your hands on some because they’re very special and you’ll love them. 😊

  2. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso says:

    From the cupcake itself, to the amazing buttercream, no doubt these are just irresistible!

    I haven’t worked with Tonka in a long while, as they are not always available – and quite expensive – I almost forgot about them. So thanks for the reminder about them. I totally agree with you – to think of Tonka as a dangerous ingredient is just silly. Driving a car every day is way more dangerous! 🙂

  3. carolinehelbig says:

    Wow, nougat is one of my favourite things! I buy nougat in bars (or blocks) but I don’t think that’s what you are talking about. I must visit my German deli as they stock Dr. Oetker. Never heard of tonka beans and will have to do some research. Thanks, this recipe sounds amazing.

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