Lalla Rookh, a combination of booze (usually rum) and vanilla ice cream, came into fashion in the late 1800s. In its fanciest form, a scoop of vanilla ice cream was flavored with fruit, hollowed out and filled with alcohol, then served in an edible candy cup. To make our version, fill a small bowl with vanilla ice cream, hollow out a small well in the center, fill it with apple brandy, and top the whole thing with whipped cream. Your guests will love their boozy surprise. This basic format is also extremely riffable, so experiment—try filling a scoop of chocolate ice cream with a shot of orange liqueur, or some cinnamon ice cream with your favorite aged rum.

What to buy: Calvados is an apple brandy from Normandy, France. It can be found in liquor stores and online. If you can’t find it, use any good-quality apple brandy.

This dish was featured as part of our Epic Christmas Feast: Lost Recipes from the Grand Hotels.

  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 20 mins, plus 2 hrs 15 mins freezing time   

Ingredients (6)

  • 1 quart Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Calvados or apple brandy
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving


  1. Place the ice cream in the refrigerator until slightly softened, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place the softened ice cream in a large bowl and, using a rubber spatula, stir until it has a smooth consistency and no frozen chunks remain.
  3. Divide the ice cream among 8 small (1/2-cup) shallow bowls and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Freeze until the ice cream is semisolid, about 30 minutes.
  4. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop about 2 tablespoons of ice cream from the center of each bowl to create a deep trough. Reserve the scooped-out ice cream for another use. Return the sundaes to the freezer to chill completely, at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to serve, remove the sundaes from the freezer and let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, chill the clean bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the chilled bowl and whisk on medium speed until medium peaks form, about 2 minutes; set aside. (Alternatively, you can use a hand whisk and a large chilled bowl. Whisk the cream, sugar, and vanilla until medium peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.) Slowly pour 1 tablespoon of the Calvados into each trough, filling it just up to the top (do not let it spill over). Top each bowl with a dollop of whipped cream and some nutmeg. Serve immediately.