Calvados overdose: Calvados Ice Cream with Apple Calvados Compote (now with bonus Calvados!)

Those Norman French sure love their apple brandy. A sidebar next to this recipe in Susan Herrmann Loomis’ French Farmhouse Cookbook lists seven rounds of Calvados served at the end of old-school Norman meals, including the coup de pied au cul or “kick in the ass.” Gourmandistan’s recent relocation to Normandy saw us imbibe several shots throughout many meals, some as apéritifs and some in desserts, but never seven in one sitting. (Steve would not have fared well, as Steve is not one to “party,” as his heavier drinking friends like to put it.)

We had a beautiful vacation.  Thank you for asking.

Our house in Écots in Basse-Normandie had apple trees all round it, as well as several nearby cider and Calvados makers.

We had a wonderful month in Normandy, though we quickly recalled from a stay six years ago that the region’s holy fromages trio of Cambembert, Livarot and Pont L’Evêque does not include our favorites. (Norman cheeses are too bland and bouncy. We prefer a nice firm Laguiole or a runny Époisses.)

Despite the cheese issue, we made several dishes with local Calvados and cider, as well as an apple compote, during our stay.  Though while our small rental kitchen was more than serviceable, it was no place to make ice cream.

When we returned to the States, apple season was in full swing and for a time still featuring Steve’s beloved GoldRush variety. We wanted to make a dish celebrating our successful vacation and, since we were back with our ice cream maker, settled on a somewhat typically complicated Gourmandistan solution: Calvados Ice Cream with Apple Calvados Compote.

Michelle added even more Calvados to the custard than the recipe called for, causing her to fear it wouldn’t freeze. She also worried the firm-fleshed GoldRush apples wouldn’t cook down into compote. (Michelle, you may have noticed, worries a lot in the kitchen.) Neither nightmare happened, of course—the ice cream was delicious and dazzlingly liquorish, tasting of eggnog and boiled custard without the holiday horrors of cinnamon and nutmeg. The compote was syrupy and satisfying with just a little tickle of tartness. We also opted for the optional Calvados topping, which can be tricky. Michelle got quite a cough-laden surprise at one serving when she slurped up a spoonful of virtually straight liquor, leading Steve to observe that she obviously wasn’t ready to “party.” It might simply be that our Kentucky bottle of Calvados is of much better quality than the bargain-bin bottle we bought at the St. Pierre-sur-Dives SuperCasino, but we thought this was the best home dessert we’ve made in quite a while.

You might try this without the extra Calvados. Or, you might rather skip the ice cream and compote and inquire about the seven rounds. That’s up to you, but we know which way we’re choosing to party.


(adapted from Susan Herrmann Loomis’ French Farmhouse Cookbook)


  • 1/3 c. Calvados
  • 2/3 c. sugar + 1 TB
  • 2 c. whole milk
  • 1-1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract

Stir 1 TB sugar into Calvados and set aside for several hours.  Stir occasionally to blend.

Heat milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until scalded (i.e., bubbles are starting to form in the corners of the pan).

Whisk egg yolks and 2/3 c. sugar until blended, by hand or in a mixer.  Pour a bit of the scalded milk/cream into the egg/sugar mixture to temper.  Add the remainder of the milk/cream, a little at a time, beating all the while.  When mixed, pour back into the saucepan.

Cook the custard over low to medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat.  When cooled slightly, add Calvados/sugar mixture and vanilla. Pour custard into a bowl and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Freeze custard according to the instructions of your ice cream maker.


  • 1 TB butter
  • 2 lbs. firm, tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4″  squares
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. Calvados
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Melt butter in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat.  Add apples and sugar.  Cook, stirring frequently, until apples have caramelized slightly.  This will take at least 15 minutes, likely more.  Reduce heat a bit.  Add Calvados and vanilla and cook until liquid has mostly been absorbed by the apples.  Set aside to cool.


To serve:  Spoon some of the compote into the bottom of a small bowl.  Add a couple of scoops of ice cream.  Drizzle with a bit of Calvados.


  1. Normandy’s fantastic. The last time I was there a 90 year old man taught me how to make calvados with a pressure cooker and it beats the stuff you can buy in shops by miles. It has a much better smell and taste of apples 😉

  2. I had a very good green apple ice cream with Calvados at La Coupole once. I cannot sing the praises of good Calvados enough, and you’re never going to buy a good one in Casino! I’m with you on the Laguiole issue – such a good cheese.

    • Oh for sure! We needed a splash for a pie or something (I forget what) and that was the only place open. Heresy! Ah, the Laguiole cheese… one of the reasons we keep returning to the Aveyron is the handy factory where you can buy all different ages of it.

  3. Really lovely images! I especially like the bales of hay in comparison to the next image of the rounds of cheese. I’m glad you had a great time in Normandy, too.

    Mr Pear doesn’t like alcohol so obviously this means that I shall have to make and enjoy the ice cream and compote all by myself. Life is such a trial sometimes…. 😉

  4. Another tempting desseert–and with Calvados! For many years I’ve been a grappa/marc guy; frankly, the more rustic the better. Once I developed a taste for them I pretty much gave up cognac. However, the two French distallates (aside from marc) that I will drink when I see a good/homemade one are Calvados and Mirabelle (dry brandy made from yellow plums). Calvados ice cream sounds fabulous. You’ll have to excuse me–I need to go get on my bike just thinking about it. Ken

    • Thanks, Ken! We had a delicious “Ti’ Punch” aperitif at a restaurant in Honfleur: Calvados, lime juice and sugar over ice. Sounds strange but it was delicious. Actually, I have yet to have Calvados any way that I don’t like (except the bad cheap stuff).

  5. Eha

    After reading ‘calvados’ somewhat a number of times, we won’t forget it – thank God! Am actually not a spirits person but loved THAT one from Day 1! Beautiful cheeses, and somewhow I very much love the Normandy ones . . .

  6. Welcome home! Such beautiful pictures from what I’m sure was a wonderful holiday. And what better way to celebrate your return than with a tasty dish of home made ice cream. I need to find me some Calvados.

  7. That looks like such a gorgeous (not to mention delectable) vacation! I’m glad you could bring a taste of it home. 🙂 I am still working through a fridge full of apples and love the idea of a scoop of this on apple pie.

    • Thanks, Conor! More than anything else, I miss the big, huge vistas in lower Normandy. Here, the countryside is pretty, but we are always a little hemmed in by hills and trees.

  8. A whole month?! What a lovely, long vacation – and stunning pictures, as well. I also can’t imagine having 7 shots of calvados in one sitting, although it could be a fun night… This ice cream sounds delicious, and like a great reminder of the trip.

    • Yeah, we are reaping the benefits of having no kids to put through college like all our friends are currently doing! I can’t imagine the 7 shots either… but it would probably be fun trying.

  9. Pas Moi

    Hmmm… Having been to Calvados and throughout Normandy over 20 times in as many years, I take exception to the ‘Norman cheeses are bland and bouncy’ (especially in noting Liverot). I humbly suggest peruse the local weekly markets in almost every village and not at the ‘wood-boxed’ and more commercial producers. That being said, I wouldn’t offend any French cheese. They are my friends. All of them!

    • I love cheese of all sorts, too–particularly fermier ones. Though, with all appropriate apologies to Marie Harel, the Normandy varieties aren’t going to the top of my list. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Stunning photos; I particularly like the hayfield. Michelle, I am sure you can party with the best of them. You’re not just going to take that one on the chin, are you?

  11. This sounds fantastic! You mention Kentucky Calvados…do you know what kind of Calvados it was/who makes it? I’m a KY native and would love to try something local 🙂

    • Now, that would be fantastic! Sadly, it was bad wording on our part. What we meant to say was “French Calvados we bought at an expensive liquor store in KY.” 🙂

  12. Yeah – not sure how I missed this post but this sounds incredible! It’s going on my list for this winter. It’s never too cold for ice cream! (Also Époisses is my favorite cheese of all time…and pretty close to my favorite food as well.)

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: