This just might be the purest lemon dessert on the planet! The recipe and name “Posset” comes from Medieval times and refers to the small pot in which it was presented. In 14th- and 15th-century cookery manuals, a possibly-related word spelled variously "possenet", "postnet.”
This version of the recipe was inspired by a trip to Minneapolis, where Woody and I had the exquisite dessert created by pastry chef Ann Bridges when she worked at Restaurant Alma. The Lemon Posset, which was prepared with Meyer lemon juice, and presented in ramekins, was the purest cleanest flavor I’ve ever experienced. It is a soft lemon cream that contains neither butter nor eggs unlike lemon curd, nor gelatin unlike pannacotta. It relies entirely on the acidity of lemon to set the cream. For The Baking Bible, we paired the Lemon Posset with Rose’s favorite individual sponge cakes (génoise), which makes this the most ethereal of cakes. But we like to make Lemon Posset without the cake when we have extra lemon juice as a special treat to be eaten by the spoonful during the day.
Servings: Four 1/2 cup servings
Makes: about 1.6 cups/380 ml for 4 possets
Equipment: Four small ramekins, Pyrex custard cups, or 1/2 cup small jars
Make the Posset
1) Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a 4-cup glass measure with a spout.
2) In a 2-cup microwavable measure with a spout (or in a small saucepan (see Notes, over medium heat) scald the heavy cream (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will form around the periphery). Remove it from the heat and keep it warm.
3) In a small, saucepan, with a silicone spatula, stir together the sugar and lemon juice until all the sugar is moistened. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until near the boiling point.
4) Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the heated cream until the mixture is uniform in consistency.
5) Press it through the strainer and scrape any mixture clinging to the underside into the 4-cup glass measure.
6) Pour equal amounts into the 4 small ramekins.
7) Refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours. The posset will form a thick custardy layer on top. Once that layer has set, cover each ramekin tightly with plastic wrap.
8) Allow the possets to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.
In England, possets are served with Sablé Biscuits, a round French shortbread cookie.
Store: Airtight: room temperature, 1 hour; refrigerator, 1 week. Do not freeze as the texture will be compromised.
* The posset will have a thick custardy layer on top with a cream-like consistency below.
* If using standard variety lemon juice, use 1/2 cup plus 4 teaspoons/116 grams of sugar. (Alternatively, use half lemon juice and half orange juice.)
* Avoid using copper or Teflon-lined pans for heating the cream and lemon syrup, or plastic measuring cups or containers for refrigerating the posset, as they will taint the flavor or prevent the posset from properly setting.