Lady Macbeth used spiked possets to drug the royal bodyguards so her husband could murder the king. That was the only thing I knew about possets until Diana Henry showed me that they had far kinder uses.
Historically a milk-based libation fortified with ale or wine, posset these days more likely refers to dessert — specifically, a lemony custard topped with berries that’s a summer treat across Britain.
I came across my first puddinglike posset in Diana Henry’s marvelous 2016 cookbook, “Simple.”
“A posset is a wonder,” she writes, “all you do is heat cream, add citrus juice and let cool, and yet you end up with a silky, rich dessert.”
It sounded too good and easy to be true. How could a mix of just cream, sugar and citrus juice — without eggs, gelatin or cornstarch — yield a custard firm enough to support a crown of berries? You don’t even have to bake anything in a messy water bath.
So I gave it a go, figuring that even if it didn’t set, I’d at least end up with something sweetly sloshy that I could pour over my berries .
Happily, I was wrong, and the recipe was right. The posset gelled perfectly. It was creamy and velvety, thick enough to mound onto my spoon, but also ethereally light, with a bright, pure cream flavor that was just tangy enough.
Feel free to play around with different citrus (lime, grapefruit, Meyer lemons). No matter how you mix it, a posset will always make for a killer dessert.