Today, I’m going to show you how to make a lovely lemon posset along with some blueberry gelee that you can serve as a sauce, layer with the posset, or swirl into it to Beautiful Effect.
Originally, possets were thick drinks made by pouring wine into cream.
No thanks. But adding lemon juice to a sweetened cream mixture yields a sort of smooth, gelatin-free, panna cotta that magically sets through the power of acid and proteins.
While not technically a custard since there are no eggs, I’m classifying it as a lemon custard since that texture is a familiar one to most folks.
If you’re a fan of lemony desserts, you may also want to try my lemon pudding or lemon bars.
And for ease of browsing, you can find all my pudding and custard recipes in one place. Thanks for being here. Let’s go!
Watch my best lemon posset web story here.
How I Found Out About Possets
I was intrigued by such a simple dessert, and it reminded me a bit of making a lemon meringue or key lime pie filling by mixing lemon or lime juice and sweetened condensed milk together with some egg yolks.
This recipe was one of 140 chosen for the Food 52 Cookbook, and it was submitted to the site by user “MrsLarken.”
Mrslarkin’s original posset recipe called for only three ingredients: cream, sugar and lemon juice.
I added salt and lemon zest (that gets strained out), and increased the lemon juice slightly to come up with my idea of a perfect lemon posset.
The Difference Between Posset, Pudding, and Panna Cotta
A modern posset (no wine in milk, thanks), is a chilled dessert that sets through the reaction between the milk proteins in the cream and the acid in lemon juice.
If you used whole milk and left out the sugar, you’re basically making a simple cheese.
But rather than separating into curds and whey, the sugar and the high butterfat cream set into a thick, creamy, decidedly un-cheeselike dessert that is simple to make and truly delicious.
Panna cotta generally is set with gelatin, and American puddings are stovetop-made, starch-thickened sweet dairy desserts that may or may not contain eggs.
All three are tasty, but all are decidedly different treats.
How to Make Lemon Posset
These lovely lemon desserts are easy to make, especially because we have science on our side.
They thicken like magic!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- heavy cream: This provides the bulk of the volume of the dessert and plenty of protein and butterfat, protein to denature and set the dessert and fat to keep it from separating into curds and whey
- sugar: Sweetens the mixture and I think it probably also has a role in keeping the cream smooth as it thickens
- salt: Brings all the flavors into focus
- lemon zest: Adds the floral, sweet notes of lemon oil to the dessert (you’ll strain it out before pouring into serving containers)
- lemon juice: Provides the tart/sour lemon flavor as well as setting the dessert as the acid reacts with the proteins in the cream
And for the gelee. It’s optional, but it’s really good:
- blueberries: I love mellow blueberries paired with tart lemon, but you can also substitute raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries or another favorite berry or fruit
- sugar: Sweetens the sauce lightly. You may add more or less than I call for according to your taste and also according to how tart or sweet your fruit is
- salt: Brings all the flavors into focus
- lemon zest: Adds floral, sweet notes to the lemon, “lifting” the flavor a bit
- lemon juice: Just a couple of teaspoons. The lemon juice also helps brighten the flavor of the berries
- instant clear jel (or powdered gelatin): Either helps to thicken and softly set the sauce. If you’d like a pourable sauce, leave the thickeners out
Since lemon and blueberries go so well together, I made a blueberry gelee to serve with the posset.
Back in 2012, I made it with gelatin, and that’s very tasty, but it also keeps it from being vegetarian.
This time around (May 2023, I used instant clear jel to set the blueberry sauce, and it worked beautifully.
Making the Posset
Posset sort of makes itself, or at least it thickens all on its own.
All you have to do is:
- boil cream, sugar, lemon zest, and salt together for a little while
- remove from heat, and whisk in lemon juice
- Allow it to cool for a few minutes, then strain it to get out the lemon zest and pour into serving dishes or glasses
Jenni Says: If you don’t own one, get yourself a good fine-mesh strainer. It’s great for everything from sifting ingredients together to straining custards, puddings, and possets, to draining pasta for pasta salad. I use mine all the time.
This fine mesh strainer is great for everything from sifting together dry ingredients to straining out custard and curd and even for straining pasta or yogurt for making labneh.
My ramekins hold 4 ounces, which is plenty when you’re making a dessert that is mostly heavy cream!
I strained my posset into a pitcher and then filled the ramekins from the pitcher.
You can serve lemon posset plain, with the blueberry sauce on the side, with a thin layer of blueberry gelee on top or with a couple of spoonfuls swirled in for a marbleized effect.
The choice is yours!
How Thick Does a Posset Get?
You can control how thick your posset gets, to a certain extent, by boiling for a longer or shorter period of time.
What you’re doing when you boil the mixture is allowing some of the water to evaporate while concentrating the sugars, proteins, and fats in the cream.
The longer you boil it, the firmer the set will be.
When making a full recipe, as written, boil for 3 minutes for a softer set or up to about 8 minutes for a firmer set.
If you are making a smaller batch say with one cup of cream, you can get a nice, firm set in about 2-3 minutes of boiling.
Jenni Says: The three variables in how thick you can get your posset are the volume of ingredients, the time you boil them, and the size of the pan. A wider pot allows for faster evaporation than a narrow pot does.
A looser posset will have a similar texture to a pot de creme–wobbly but spoonable. A firmer posset is still creamy and lovely, but you can slice it and spoon it up cleanly. Thinks: the texture of a perfect flan.
Making the Gelee
Make the gelee the same way you’d make a fruit sauce. The only difference is adding some thickener.
- Measure all your ingredients–fruit, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice–into a pan.
- Heat to a boil, mashing the fruit as they cook.
- Simmer to thicken slightly, about ten minutes, and then strain the mixture into a bowl to catch all the seeds and skins.
- Don’t forget to scrape the underside of your strainer to get all the goodness.
To Thicken with Instant Clear Jel or Cornstarch:
If using instant clear jel or cornstarch to thicken, whisk it into the sugar before adding it to the pan and proceed as written.
To Thicken with Gelatin:
Bloom powdered gelatin in 1 Tablespoon cold water until it soaks up all the water.
Once you have finished cooking the fruit puree, add the bloomed gelatin and whisk until completely dissolved.
Continue with the recipe as written.
Sweetening with Sugar Substitutes
I make a LOT of dessert, so sometimes, when feasible, I will use a sugar substitute in place of granulated sugar in custard-type desserts like this.
Do not use Swerve or Monkfruit/Erythritol, because it will crystallize on top once cool.
Either Allulose or BochaSweet work exceedingly well, so feel free to make a sugar-free version of these possets.
And take it from me who has an extremely sensitive palate, I cannot tell the difference between those two sweeteners and actual sugar.
If you have any questions about this or any other recipe or post on the site, there are a few ways to get in touch.
You can leave a comment on the post, and I’ll be back in touch within 24 hours.
If your question is more pressing, don’t hesitate to email me, and I should be back in touch within 4 hours (unless I’m asleep) or often much more quickly than that.
A Note About Measurements
This is the kitchen scale that I recommend for home cooks and bakers. Using a scale will help you be more accurate and consistent in your measurements.
It is lightweight, easy to store, accurate, and very easy to use.
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
I hope you’ve learned something from this post or that you’ve decided to make the recipe.
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For the Posset
- 680 grams (24 oz 3 cups) heavy cream
- 200 grams (7 oz or 1 cup) sugar
- 114 grams (4 oz or 1/2 cup) freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
- zest of one large lemon
- heavy pinch (about 1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt (I use Morton's)
For the (Optional) Gelée
- 226 grams (1 pint or 8 oz by weight) fresh or frozen blueberries
- 42 grams (1. 5 oz or 4 1/2 teaspoons) sugar
- heavy pinch of salt
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, (no need to measure--a squirt or two will do)
- 1 teaspoon instant clear jel OR 1/2 teaspoon plain gelatin bloomed in 1 Tablespoon of cold water
For the Posset
- In a large saucepan, bring cream, sugar, salt, and lemon zest to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Turn the heat down and keep at a low boil/high simmer for five minutes. Watch the cream carefully and remove from the heat if it looks like it's going to boil over. If you're using a large pan boiling over should not be an issue.
- After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and thoroughly stir in the lemon juice.
- Let sit for fifteen minutes, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large liquid measure and pour into serving vessels of choice.
- Refrigerate until the tops are firm, about 30 minutes, before topping with about a Tablespoon or so of the gelée. Then, refrigerate for at least another 2 hours and preferably overnight before serving.
- If swirling, add 2-3 spoonfuls of gelee right after pouring the possets into ramekins and use a knife to swirl the lemon and blueberry mixtures together.
For the Gelée
- Place all the ingredients except for the gelatin and cold water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. If using instant clear jel or cornstarch rather than gelatin, whisk either into your sugar before adding to the pan.
- Turn the heat to medium and cook, smashing down on the berries so they release their juices.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat so that the berries simmer happily for about half an hour, or until the mixture gets slightly syrupy.
- Strain the berries through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down hard on the solids. You will have about 3/4 cup of puree.
- Whisk in the bloomed gelatin, if using.
- Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before layering with the posset.
If you would like to serve the blueberry gelee as a sauce, omit the gelatin or instant clear jel/cornstarch and serve it on the side.
Your possets will keep well in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to a week. They may get a bit firmer after a couple of days.
Feel free to substitute your favorite berries or mix of berries for the blueberries.
Nutrition InformationYield 7 Serving Size 4 oz
Amount Per Serving Calories 489Total Fat 36.2gSaturated Fat 22.5gCholesterol 133mgSodium 207mgCarbohydrates 42.7gFiber 0.9gSugar 38.3gProtein 2.4g
Thanks for spending some time with me today, friends.
I really hope you love the lemon posset–such a tasty and easy dessert!
Take care, and have a lovely day.
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