Weird story – up until I tried this recipe, I didn’t like lemon in sweet things. Hated it. Thought it was weird. Maybe it was thanks to the dodgy lemon meringues that were knocking around when I was a kid, but I just couldn’t understand why people liked lemon in sweet things. Now I’ve been converted by lemon posset, I realise that it’s just that I don’t get on with the supersweet, barely tart kind of lemon puddings. I like my lemon desserts sharp and creamy! I’m not saying this isn’t sweet – it is – but it’s balanced by the sharpness of the lemons perfectly. I can say all this because it wasn’t me who invented it!
The recipe is supposedly based on a medieval dish of milk curdled with wine or beer, with spices added to it. The alcohol would curdle the milk, which was supposed to be a great cure for things like the cold. Even today, we drink hot milk to get to sleep, so I guess it’s evolved since then! It’s also mentioned in Macbeth, when the evil Lady Macbeth uses possets to knock out Duncan’s guards.
This recipe works on a similar principle – but instead of curdling the cream, the lemon acts to set it, creating a dense, smooth and creamy taste. You can add grated lemon zest to this, but I prefer to keep the smoothness of the cream totally uninterrupted by the nuggets of peel.
- 600ml double cream
- 140g caster sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons (at least 75ml)
- Combine the cream and sugar in a pan, and heat until scalding – but do not boil.
- Whilst on the heat, add the lemon juice and allow to boil for 30 seconds, whisking to prevent the cream from burning.
- Allow to cool before pouring into bowls and placing in the fridge until set.
Some people like to serve this with shortbread or other crisp biscuits, but I really don’t think it needs any additions!