I had never heard of posset before until my friend and co-worker Annie Petito developed this recipe last year for Cook’s Illustrated. It’s dead simple to make, and quickly became one of my all-time favorite recipes from the test kitchen. You can enjoy it anytime, but I find it particularly welcome this time of year as it’s light, lemony essence just seems to shout SPRINGTIME!
A posset (also spelled poshote, poshotte) was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often spiced, which was popular from medieval times to the 19th century. These days the term is mainly used to describe this related dessert which is similar to syllabub. Rather than curdle milk with wine or ale, this lemon posset curdles a mix of heavy cream and sugar with lemon juice. The result is a perfectly set pudding that is rich, but light, and exhibits just the right balance of tart and sweet. It’s delicious straight-up, but I prefer it topped with a few fresh berries, or a quick fruit compote to give it a little textural diversity.
I made a quick batch to serve up after some grilled steaks over the weekend, and from the first bite, everyone at the table was begging me for the recipe. I was tempted to let them believe that it was a supremely complicated confection, but in the end fessed to the fact that short of setting out a bowl of fresh fruit, this is about the simplest dessert you can put on your table. Cream….sugar….lemon….done!
Cheers – Steve
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries or raspberries
- Combine cream, sugar, and lemon zest in medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Continue to boil, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. If mixture begins to boil over, briefly remove from heat. Cook until mixture is reduced to 2 cups, 8 to 12 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let sit until mixture is cooled slightly and skin forms on top, about 20 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into bowl; discard zest. Divide mixture evenly among 6 individual ramekins or serving glasses.
- Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, at least 3 hours. Once chilled, possets can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Unwrap and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with berries and serve.