A caramel and Calvados sauce

These unlikely partners came together through not unusual means. I was wiping a plate clean of caramel sauce with one hand, and hanging on to a glass of Calvados with the other. As soon as the two met on the palate, 1 knew it was the start of something beautiful. Calvados is the subtle flavour of apples in a Normandy fire-water;

and I don’t offer that assessment in any critical way. It may be subtle in flavour, once you get through the alcohol, but it has a marvellous ability to add flavour to custards and creams. Not surprisingly, it’s a perfect marinade for apples.

2 vanilla beans

l00g caster sugar

1/2 cup cream

4 egg yolks

1 1/2 cups milk

Calvados to taste

Calvados, the apple brandy from Normandy, is very expensive. So don’t go out and buy a bottle just for the sauce - unless you like drinking the stuff, or you intend to make plenty of this sauce. If you taste it once, and can afford it, you’ll always have a bottle in the cupboard. Once you’ve tasted this sauce, you’ll keep a bottle just for it.


Split the beans and place in the pot with the sugar, making sure you run the seeds into the sugar. Cook to a caramel over a gentle heat, stirring and working until the required caramel is reached. You can do this in the microwave – it makes for a brilliant, easy caramel.


Once you have the caramel, carefully and slowly add the cream, keeping the heat low. Be careful, as it could spurt from the pan. The low heat is necessary or else the cream could set the caramel.


Make a custard. Whisk the yolks until white and creamy. Boil the milk and whisk furiously into the creamed yolks.


Pour the custard onto the caramel-flavoured cream and cook, stirring in a figure-eight pattern, until the mixture thickens slightly. If you rub your finger along the spoon it should leave a firm line. (The mix should register 85°C on a sugar thermometer.)


Pour through a sieve and whisk until the sauce cools. Add Calvados until the taste is in ideal balance. For a half litre of caramel custard you will probably need about 50 ml Calvados. Serve warm or cold.

One Response to “A caramel and Calvados sauce”

  1. [...] a little of the raspberry jam, added lots of berries, some cubed apples, and a richly flavoured caramel and Calvados sauce. [...]