Cream – a wonderful ingredient that is used in so many dishes. Especially desserts. Many desserts involve nothing more than flavouring the cream or using it as the base of a custard. The Italians have their panna cotta and the French their crème brûlée. Both of which are divinely luscious.
A classic British dessert calls for nothing more than lemon juice and sugar to flavour the cream. And while the crème brûlée is a classic custard thickened with egg yolks and the panna cotta set with gelatine, the posset uses lemon juice not only to flavour the cream but also to set it.
The difference between the lemon posset and the other two desserts mentioned is that the posset wins hands down when it comes to ease of making. Three ingredients, no cooking (unless you consider heating up a bit of cream and sugar cooking). It takes literally minutes to make, looks beautiful, tastes even better and is a fantastic option for dinner parties.
This dessert is the perfect con. If you make it for a dinner party and your guests are unfamiliar with how a posset is made they’ll assume you’ve been slaving at your bench stirring and whisking and making a custard.
Not so. Let me enlighten you. This is all you do to make a posset – heat cream and sugar together with lemon zest. Once it’s come to the boil you whisk in lemon juice and then pour into serving glasses. That’s it. They take a few hours in the fridge to set, which means they’re better made in advance – even better! What’s not to like?
I would strongly suggest you serve the posset with a biscuit of some kind. I like to serve it with shortbread. You could simply buy a packet but homemade shortbread is ridiculously easy to make. Some years ago I made Nigella’s vanilla shortbread from her Forever Summer book (now titled Nigella Summer) and have never looked back.
Although you would of course serve the posset with a spoon there’s nothing to stop you recommending to your guests that they scoop out a generous dollop of the delicious lemony cream with their biscuit – a mouthful that will send them to dessert heaven.
Below is the recipe, although with only three ingredients I feel it’s almost a push to call it that. Mind you, I suppose it is rather important to get the measurements right here. The lemon juice causes a chemical reaction in the cream, which is what makes it set while chilling in the fridge. It’s rather exciting when cooking and science come together.
And while fusing food and science seems rather a modern endeavour, the posset actually started life many centuries ago as a drink. It was popular around the fifteenth century in Britain. They would sour hot milk with alcohol – ale most commonly – which caused it to curdle. It was considered medicinal and drunk as a remedy for colds. The lemon juice and setting it as a dessert came later.
Back to the recipe. A few points to note before I get started.
I’ve specified double cream, which may sound unfamiliar to New Zealanders unless they’ve spent some time in the UK. Double cream has a higher fat content and is richer and thicker than standard New Zealand cream. I find this helps the posset to set slightly firmer. Double cream is finally now available in New Zealand thanks to Lewis Road Creamery and if you can get your hands on it please use it here. I’m able to purchase it at my local New World. But if not, standard cream is absolutely fine to use; it may just set slightly softer.
In regards to the sugar – I use golden caster sugar here for its beautiful golden colour. But regular caster sugar is perfectly fine to use in its place.
And lastly – the reason I’ve specified the serving size as 4-6 is because it does depend on what you choose to serve the dessert in and the size of the portion that suits you. It is quite a rich dessert and some may choose to use a small ramekin in which case it would definitely serve at least 6. I like to use heat-proof glasses. If you pour generously six portions may be a stretch. But remember there is no need to fill the glasses. Over to you.
650ml double cream
200g golden caster sugar
Firstly prepare the lemons. Zest each lemon and set the zest aside. Now juice the lemons until you have 125ml lemon juice.
Measure out the cream and sugar and place in a large pan. Add the lemon zest and stir through.
Heat gently until the sugar has melted and then bring to the boil. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat.
Whisk in the lemon juice and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a pouring jug. You want to press down on the lemon zest in the sieve to make sure you get maximum flavour out of it.
Pour this divine lemony cream into your chosen ramekins or glasses. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, cover in cling film and transfer to the fridge to set. They need at least three hours in the fridge to set. But they can be made the night before if this helps.
As mentioned above I chose to serve mine with delicious homemade shortbread. My friends went home happy.
Originally posted on: https://traceyobrienblog.com
Published by Tracey O'Brien