The humble posset has its roots in the middle ages. Then, it was a milk drink, rather than a thickened creamy dessert, that was sweetened with honey, spiced and curdled with alcohol. It was probably drank as a nightcap to aid sleep, in a similar way that we now drink a glass of ‘horlicks’ before bed (other drinks are available!) It may even have been taken as a cold remedy.
This early version of the posset played a part in Shakespeare’s Macbeth when Lady Macbeth poisoned Duncan’s guards with “drugg’d” possets. As the years went by this drink developed into something much thicker with the addition of ground almonds and crushed biscuits
Though it fell out of favour as the centuries passed, it has, in recent years, made a comeback in the form of a dessert. It’s mind blowingly simple to make requiring only 3 ingredients – double cream, sugar and lemon.
OK, it’s not the healthiest of desserts, though it does contain lemon so it can’t be THAT bad ;), but as my Mr E would say, “you only get one sit on the swing, so you may as well have a push!”
Now, this dessert makes a beautifully simple & refreshing end to a dinner party. It can be made the day before, kept in the fridge covered, without spoiling. You could even substitute the lemon for lime or even white grapefruit for a bit of variation. (Though as a side note about grapefruit – it can interfere with certain medication so it may be wise to read the information accompanying any ‘drugs’ you may need to take.)
And for those who like a little science, I am led to believe that the posset is thickened when the acid from the lemon juice (or similar) reacts with the fat molecules in the cream. For this reason, you do need to use a double rather than single cream.
So let’s get to it
Cost: £1.55, that’s 39p per portion.
Time: 10 minutes, plus 2 hours chilling time.
You will need
300ml double cream
75g caster sugar
2 lemons (zest of 1, juice of 2)
How to make it.
1. Place the cream and sugar into a heavy based pan. Stir to combine.
2. Place the pan over a low heat, stirring regularly. The sugar will begin to dissolve and you will no longer hear or feel the graininess from the sugar.
3. Have a timer ready, set to 3 minutes.
4. Slowly let the cream come to the boil, reduce the heat a little and allow the cream to simmer for 3 minutes stirring continuously.
5. After the 3 minutes, remove the cream from the heat and add the zest and half of the lemon juice. Beat with a wooden spoon. Taste, adding more lemon juice if required. I found I needed about 3/4 of the juice to get the citrus zing I like.
6. Decant into ramekins / drinking tumblers / wine glasses.
7. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.