Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot-Orange Sauce

This Cardamom Ice Cream is silky smooth and creamy. It’s out of the ordinary, a bit exotic, and delicately flavored. Eat it all by itself or dressed up with a tangy Honey-Apricot-Orange sauce and chopped pistachios.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce

As you can see, this post has a crazy long title. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. The recipe started out as a showcase for cardamom and ended up as a three act play. Mercifully, I will spare you the details of recipe development. On the other hand, I am about to talk ad nauseum regarding cardamom and its impact in my life.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce
Cardamom seeds before they are ground into powder.

Every time that I smell cardamom, it reminds me of the flavor of Bayer baby aspirin from when I was a kid. I loved the flavor of baby aspirin to the point of sneaking them from time to time when I was supposed to be napping. In those days, aspirin came in little glass bottles with screw-on lids. There were no such things as child safety caps before 1963. Gasp!

Bayer baby aspirin

My mom fulfilled her motherly duties by warning me about the dangers of eating baby aspirin. She was sure to include the parts about having to go to the hospital and getting my stomach pumped if I ate too many of them. I had no idea what getting my stomach pumped meant, but I did know a thing or two about hospitals. That alone was enough of a dire consequence to keep my aspirin snitching down to one or two at a time.

Logic dictated that if Mom gave me one or two baby aspirin when I was sick, then eating one or two baby aspirin when I was well shouldn’t be a problem. Very sound reasoning for a four year old, don’t you think? AMAZING self-control, too, especially considering how much I loved the flavor of baby aspirin back then. It was sort of a cross between an orange Smartie® and an orange SweeTart®. It had more tang than a Smartie®, but less than a SweeTart®. mmmmm, delicious.

As was a standard practice for most moms when I was a kid, my mother stored the baby aspirin in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Playing in the medicine cabinet was my favorite naptime alternative. Naps were boring; medicine cabinets were not. Because I regularly practiced the art of stealth, my mother had absolutely no idea that I was a plunderer.

Our medicine cabinet was, of course, over the bathroom sink. The only tricky part about my plundering was getting up on that free-standing sink. I would perch on the edge of the tub and stretch out one leg, gripping the rim of the sink with my toes. With the opposite leg, I’d push off from the tub, grasping and pulling at the wall with my hands to assist with landing in the sink. The plundering began in earnest with my first stop being the bottle of baby aspirin.

I was a sneaky kid. Really sneaky. I still marvel at the extent of my sneaking skills. Only once did I ever get caught and that was because I dropped a bottle of Mercurochrome which broke and splattered the intensely orange liquid all over the bathroom. Man, did I ever get in trouble for that one!

Baby aspirin, however, was worth any amount of punishment. I craved the flavor it. I remember when the orange flavor was changed; such a overwhelming disappointment from which I have never quite recovered. But, hope springs eternal for the return of the real orange baby aspirin flavor.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce

Although the baby aspirin flavor from my childhood is gone, smelling cardamom can take me right back to those early years of childhood bliss. I do not think that it is coincidental that cardamom happens to taste wonderful with oranges. They were made for each other.

Apricots, oranges, honey and cardamom were all made for each other, too. Four different flavors, all living happily together. The sauce is more than just an ice cream topping. It can also work well on pancakes, waffles or French toast.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce

This cardamom ice cream is quite possibly the smoothest ice cream I have ever made. By itself, its delicate, sweet flavor provides a quiet, peaceful ice cream experience. When paired with the tangy honey-apricot-orange sauce, it becomes a bit of a party. The pistachios are great for complimentary flavor and textural components.

For your educational enjoyment–

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceLook at these colors! I had never stopped to really appreciate the beautiful shades of greens and purples in pistachios until I took these photos.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceThese are green cardamom pods. They can be a bit tricky to find. Look in the spice section of your grocery store or check out stores which sell Indian or Middle Eastern foods. Before adding the cardamom pods to the ice cream, crush them somewhat. Inside the pods are seeds like those in the photo appearing earlier in this post.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceI like to use a microplane for zesting citrus. It does a great job of taking off a thin layer of zest without cutting into the bitter pith.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceAfter zesting the orange, juice it. I used one large navel orange and got just under 1/2 cup of juice. Honestly, I believe that it was the juiciest, most fragrant orange I have ever encountered. The color of the juice was incredible, too!

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceI was reading about apricots in my copy of The Flavor Bible and learned that cooking them brings out their flavor. The book stated that apricots are one of the very few fruits that are rather bland when eaten raw, but that cooking “unleashes” the fruit’s flavor. Before reading that bit of information, I hadn’t given those facts much thought. I had always felt that apricots were rather underwhelming when eaten raw, but had enjoyed them canned or cooked. However, the fact that it was the cooking process which freed the flavor had escaped me.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceThis is the “sauce” prior to cooking. By the end of the cooking time the apricots will have pretty much disintegrated. Despite this, the sauce will still need to be processed with an immersion blender or in a stand blender or food processor. I used an immersion blender because it was really convenient to blend the sauce right in the pot.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot SauceWhen preparing the custard, be sure to stir it constantly while cooking, scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. Don’t boil the custard; keep it just below a boil. As it cooks, the custard will begin to thicken. It won’t get thick like pudding, but you will notice a change in the consistency. To test to see if the custard is ready, dip a spoon into it. The custard should coat the spoon well and cling to it. Use your finger to draw a line through the custard on the back of the spoon. If the line remains with well defined edges, then the custard is ready. For a full tutorial, refer to Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard on this site.

Start cooking, babes! This is so worth the effort. Even if you choose to skip the sauce, the ice cream will be a lovely experience for you.

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot-Orange Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours

Silky smooth and creamy, this Cardamom Ice Cream is out of the ordinary, a bit exotic, and delicately flavored. Eat it all by itself or dressed up with a tangy Honey-Apricot-Orange sauce and chopped pistachios.


    For the Ice Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 8 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • For the Honey-Apricot-Orange Sauce:
  • 1/3-1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice or fresh squeezed orange juice + water to equal ½ cup
  • 1 pound apricots, halved and pitted
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • Topping:
  • Pistachios, rough chopped (optional)


    For the Ice Cream:
  1. In a 3-quart sauce pot, stir together the heavy cream, milk, sugar and salt. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out caviar. Add the vanilla bean halves, the vanilla caviar and the cardamom pods to the cream mixture.
  2. Over medium low heat, bring the cream mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot while stirring. Remove from heat. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium-sized bowl. Pour the hot mixture through the strainer to catch the cardamom pods and vanilla bean halves. Return cream mixture to the pot.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by slowly streaming 1/3-1/2 of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking rapidly.
  4. Return the pot with the remaining cream mixture to the burner. Slowly stream the tempered egg yolks into the pot with the cream mixture while whisking rapidly. Over medium low heat while stirring constantly, heat the cream base until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a metal spoon. Slide your finger across the back of the coated spoon. If a definitive line remains, then the custard is done. If not, continue to cook and stir the mixture, testing periodically with the spoon until the custard has developed. Remove pot from burner and stir in the vanilla extract and cardamom.
  5. Continue to stir ice cream base until cool enough to refrigerate. Do not allow the base to sit without stirring because a "skin" will form on the top which will be lumpy if stirred back into the ice cream base. For a faster cool down: Make an ice bath by filling a very large bowl about 1/4 full of ice. Pour a little water over the ice and place the pot or bowl of ice cream base down in the ice bath. Stir the ice cream base to cool it.
  6. Put the ice cream base into an airtight container and refrigerate until well chilled. Note: If the ice bath method for cooling the base has been used, it may be cool enough to proceed directly with processing.
  7. Process in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's instructions. Put ice cream in a container or bowl, cover and place in freezer to ripen for several hours or over-night.
  8. For the Honey-Apricot-Orange Sauce:
  9. In a small sauce pot, stir together honey, orange zest and orange juice in a small sauce pot. Add apricot halves. Bring to a very low boil over medium low heat. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring as needed.
  10. With an immersion blender, blend sauce ingredients until smooth. Optionally, allow sauce to cool, then blitz in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  11. Serve sauce over ice cream and top with chopped pistachios.


Important! More is not better when using cardamom. Too much cardamom can cause food to have a 'soapy' taste.

For a step-by-step tutorial on making ice cream or frozen custard, please see Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard on this site.

The stated total time required for this recipe includes cooling, processing and freezing time.

The sauce can be frozen in a closed, airtight container and stored in the freezer for several months.

Cardamom Ice Cream recipe adapted from The Spice House; Honey-Apricot-Orange Syrup topping by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’

Cardamom Ice Cream with Honey-Apricot Sauce

You may also like to try some of these great ice cream flavors:
Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard
Vanilla Bean Frozen Custard
Cake Batter Ice Cream
Cake Batter Ice Cream
Strawberry Sauce or Any Basic Fruit Sauce
Strawberry Sauce or Any Basic Fruit Sauce


  1. says

    1 – You had me at Cardamom. 2 – Whole cardamom is the only way to go (I get them real cheap at the local Hispaic grocery). 3 – I loved the flavor of Bayer baby aspirin when I was a kid. 4 – I would totally pop them like candy… had to climb up on the kitchen counter to get them. 5 – I never associated the flavor of baby aspirin and cardamom, but I know of a great orange/dreamsicle fudge that tastes very much like baby aspirin. 6 – your pistachios are beautiful; they seem more colorful than the ones I can get my hands on . Okie-dokie my friend – cardamom ice cream is going on my to-do list. PS and by the way – thank you, thank you, thank you for not calling it cadamon.

    • says

      1 – hello fellow cardamom enthusiast! 2 – Good tip on the Hispanic grocery. I found mine at an Indian store. 3 – druggy 4 – Climb every mountain, Ford every stream. Follow every rainbow, ’til you find your dream. 5 – No wonder you scaled the kitchen counter to get them! Druggy. Then again, I vaulted across bathroom chasms to secure something that tasted like cardamom and orange. I don’t know what I would have done for something that tasted like orange/dreamsicle fudge. Learned to levitate? 6 – The camera loved them, baby. It was late afternoon on a cloudy, rainy day and the camera was very ‘in the moment’. I need to name my camera; it has such a personality. My camera bag is named Marcia–I don’t know why. PS: You’re welcome, you’re welcome, you’re welcome! I have my own issues with marinate, marinade, and marinated (verb, noun, simple past tense verb).

  2. says

    We use a lot of cardamom in Sri Lankan cooking (both savory and sweet). Cardamom has gotten very expensive in the last few years… so my wallet was not happy, but I love it so that I still buy it in bulk. LOL! This ice cream is delightful. 🙂 I enjoyed reading about your childhood memories and your love of baby aspirin. I also remember the orange (almost Tang) taste of it . 🙂

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