This simple dessert is made with just three ingredients: cream, sugar and citrus.
You can use any citrus you like. Lemon is traditional, but I opted for lime because I wanted something reminiscent of Key lime pie. Grapefruit, tangerine, clementine or blood orange would work too. However, lower-acid citrus may not set quite as firmly as more acidic citrus.
Although modern possets are served with a spoon, originally this British concoction was served as a hot beverage. In olden days, possets were made by curdling spiced, sweetened milk or cream with ale or wine and sometimes eggs.
In "The British Cook Book" Ben Mervis writes that these beverages were "popular with medieval nobles." Shakespeare mentioned possets as food and poison in "Hamlet" (Act 1, Scene 5), "Macbeth" (Act 2, Scene 2) and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" (Act 1, Scene 4 and Act 5, Scene 5).
While historical possets don't hold any appeal to me — as much as I love eggnog, a successor of the posset, the idea of curdling milk in beer ... no, thank you — velvety smooth modern possets are a divine indulgence. Fortunately, posset the dessert skips the alcohol (and curdling for that matter) and lets the cream and fruit flavors shine.
The creamy, dreamy pudding-like dessert can be eaten as is or served with fresh berries (blackberries would be really good) or something crunchy like a cookie or graham cracker.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 lime
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 large limes)
In a medium saucepan (I used a 2-quart), bring the cream, sugar and lime zest to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Keeping an eye on the heat -- cream can boil over quickly! -- and stirring somewhat frequently, let the mixture boil for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the lime juice. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Divide mixture among 4 to 6 ramekins (I used yogurt jars) and chill for about 4 hours before serving.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.