Attendees of Slideluck LA VII were lucky to have among them Karen Gillingham, a top-notch food stylist. Why? Because she brought the goods. Karen’s teeny, tart lemon possets were the life of the party, and she was kind enough to share with us their history and method. Here’s Karen:
“Posset” is loosely based on an old British drink made by curdling milk with wine or ale and used to cure ailments such as a cold. It is also similar to syllabub, originally made by milking a cow directly into a pail of cider. Lady Macbeth provided poisoned possets to drug the guards outside Duncan’s quarters. And, if that isn’t too much info, posset used to refer to the curdled milk burped up by babies. Well, baby, it’s come a long way, today evolved into a silken and fragrant dessert that’s more likely to cure a sweet tooth than a cold.
Here’s the recipe I used to fill the lemon tartlets. I normally don’t serve them in a pastry crust except when people are going to be standing with a drink in one hand. At the dinner table, I like to use small cups or even liqueur glasses to eat posset with demitasse spoons, often with simple cookies. This recipe will make 6 espresso cups, 12 or more liqueur glasses, and a ton of mini tartlets. The tartlet shells can be formed out of your favorite pastry crust or purchased pre-baked at a high-end grocery store. (I bought mine at a chocolate and cake decorating shop).
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
In a 2-quart heavy pot, bring cream and 2/3 cup sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolve. Continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly and adjusting heat as needed to prevent mixture from boiling over. Remove form the heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool 10 minutes. Stir again and divide among six espresso cups, small ramekins or custard cups. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until set. To serve, place lemon zest and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a small bowl and toss until well combined. Sprinkle some peel over each posset.