You can't get any more classic, British, or summery than this wonderfully simple but simply delicious dessert. In our house we class it as one of the major food groups, and have it to add lustre to any summer day – or lift any winter gloom – and it is eaten at all points in between. The cream content makes it look a bit rich, but believe me the lemon juice really cuts through that, and there is a citrusy fragrance that gives everything a lift and helps you forget about the calories. Mind you, you don't need a lot so indulge yourself, and it's so, ahem, lemon squeezy to make. Note though, it does need to cool down in the fridge for three hours, so you will have to be patient!
When it is ready, we nearly always devour it with some crunchy contrast, like a shortbread biscuit, brandy snaps or tuiles, but I have been known to sneak leftovers (there's only two of us here after all) while standing at the fridge door like the Secret Lemonade Drinker, who members of a certain vintage might recall. The raspberries in the recipe add a dash of colour and, more importantly, fruity flavour, but you could use strawberries or blueberries or drop them altogether. We've also used candied lemon peel recently, to great effect. You could also dust the posset with icing sugar just before serving, though I don't usually do so in my impatience to get at it. There is a bit of versatility here too, as you can make it using limes (you may need to double the fruit depending on how juicy your limes are) or oranges, though I haven't yet made the latter, or a combination. And do try it with a glass or two of a lively but sweet wine, like a Sauternes or Jurançon, it can be revelatory!
- 600ml double cream
- 140g caster sugar
- 2 large lemons, zest and juice
- 18 fresh raspberries (optional)
- Fresh mint or lemon balm leaves to decorate (and eat!)
Heat the double cream in a saucepan over a low heat. Once the cream is hot but not boiling add the caster sugar and stir well. Bring the cream and sugar mixture to the boil and boil for three minutes.
Take the cream and sugar mixture off the heat, stir in the lemon zest and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture is cool, add the lemon juice and stir very well to incorporate. Strain the lovely lemony mixture through a sieve into a jug to remove the lemon zest and make it easier to serve, then pour into six large ramekins or serving glasses and refrigerate for three hours.
When ready to serve place three raspberries, if you are using them, in a group on top of each posset and tuck a leaf or sprig into each group. Serve with shortbread or something else crunchily contrasting.
I mentioned Sauternes in the intro here and it's hard to beat a half-bottle of The Society's Exhibition Sauternes from the brilliant Dubourdieu family, for its wonderful freshness and fruit. A half-bottle of Château Doisy Védrines, Barsac will also be a winner, as will our perennial members' favourite from Bergerac, the Monbazillac, Château Pech La Calevie which offers stunning value for such quality. In a similar vein, from deeper in the south-west of France, try the Domaine du Tariquet, Dernières Grives, Côtes de Gascogne or Jurançon, Symphonie de Novembre, Domaine Cauhapé. Sweet rieslings are a cracking match too. Try the Cuvée Léo, Domaine Frédéric Mochel, though it's a touch less sweet, it will be delightfully refreshing. In my humble opinion more mature stickies work a little less well as the deeper, more marmalade-y or barley-twist notes don't quite tackle the zesty tang in the dish. But each to his own.