August 8, 2016 — Birthday Party
‘A lemon posset is the perfect after dinner pudding. You may have slightly eaten a little bit too much! And just need something light. Welcome, the lemon posset… It’s fresh, summery, a little sharp to keep you on your toes, and won’t bloat your belly up like a triple chocolate fudge cake! Oh and by the way, the home-made almond shortbread recipe is also below! A must with your lemon posset pud.’
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For the lemon posset
600ml double cream
6tbs of lemon juice (from two or three unwaxed lemons)
Zest from one lemon
130g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
For the almond shortbread
250g plain white flour
65g ground almonds
1 medium egg
250g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Zest of one unwaxed lemon
Pinch of salt
1 unwaxed lemon
Sprigs of mint
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Perfect end to a wedding lunch!
My first encounter with a lemon posset was at my nephew’s wedding. It came more or less exactly as I have described here with biscuits and berries. It is a perfect dessert in many ways. It’s a light and refreshing end to a meal – but it also feels special.
For lemon-lovers everywhere
If you like lemon, then lemon posset is the desert for you. I’ve had many people say to me that they ‘love lemon’ – this feels unnatural to me – as I see lemon more as a seasoning than an ingredient. But who am I to say what takes people’s fancy? There is certainly more than one person in our family that likes to suck lemons. Yuck! So put the lemons away and get stuck into these lemon possets.
Roast chicken and St. Cement’s
After reading a recipe for St. Clemnet’s cream by Simon Hopkinson in his book, Second helping of roast chicken, I decided to make my own posset. Simon describes how St. Clement’s cream (what is actually a posset) is a piece of culinary magic. I’m always interested in culinary magic, so I proceeded to make a posset, but one based on lemon only rather than the ‘oranges and lemons’ of the St. Clement’s cream. Simon says it’s a recipe that should be taught up and down the land. He’s right – a posset’s a whizz of a recipe and one that everybody should make.
Here’s a pudding that’s sure to impress. But beauty of this recipe is that it only uses three ingredients and it’s so easy to make. Possets were a medieval curdled hot drink made by boiling milk and adding wine or ale. However, these days the same natural curdling effect of mixing lemon juice with cream is used to make a kind of ‘set’ syllabub pudding. The perfect accompaniment to these possets are almond-based biscuits and fresh summer berries.
Make the lemon possets. Put the lemon juice into a saucepan with the sugar and vanilla. Heat to dissolve the sugar, then bring up to a simmer and turn off the heat. Bring the cream to the boil in wide saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Take off the heat and mix with the lemon and sugar, add the lemon zest and whisk. Cool for about 20 minutes and then strain into ramekins or little glasses. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Make the shortbread dough. Put the flour, almonds and cornflour into a bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon zest and a pinch of salt with a hand mixer, until soft and fluffy. Add the egg to the butter and sugar and continue to beat until well mixed. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients until the mixture just comes together. Flour a surface and work the dough into a ball then press down to make a slab, cover with cling film and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Bake the shortbread. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, Gas 4. Flour a surface and roll out half the dough to a 7mm-8mm thickness. Cut the dough with an 8cm round cutter (or similar), placing the rounds on baking sheets. Gather the scraps and repeat with the second half of dough, bring all the scraps together and re-roll and cut. NB: Do this in stages according to your baking sheets and type of oven. The dough will be very fragile – use gentle handling and a spatula to move the rounds. Cook for 10 -15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Sprinkle with caster sugar as soon as they come out of the oven. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Serve the lemon possets. Decorate each posset with a sprig of mint and serve with berries and biscuits. Grate a little lemon zest over each plate.
NB: My recipe retains a fresh lemon and creamy taste. If you like your possets more intensely sweet and sour – add another 10g – 20g of sugar and add the zest of 2 lemons in the milk before boiling rather than adding the zest of 1 lemon after boiling.
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