The Best Dessert You’ve Never Heard Of

Maybe you have heard of lemon posett, but the first time I encountered it was about a year ago at Huckleberry, an unbearably cute neighborhood cafe in Santa Monica that has some of the best breakfast and pastries on the planet. It’s a completely unassuming dessert served in a ramekin or small bowl, pale yellow in color, and not very exciting to look at. But one swipe of your spoon through this silky, creamy delight is all it takes to realize you’ve come across something special.

All modern posett recipes I’ve come across are for the lemon variety, but if you dig into Elizabethan times you’ll find that the custard was flavored with everything from wine to ale and from cinnamon to bread. Apparently the posett was a common fixture at all British weddings until the start of the nineteenth century.

If you are a die hard chocolate lover this may not be the dessert for you. But for me, who will take lemon and berries over rich chocolate any day, this is heaven in a bowl. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, lemony without being astringent, and the mouthfeel is just decadent. As it should be – each serving has about half a cup of cream. Yet it’s also an incredibly light dessert, the perfect end to a heavy meal.

And the best part is that it calls for only three ingredients (cream, sugar and lemon juice) and less than half an hour of your time. Be forewarned that it does take at least two hours to set, and benefits from sitting even longer in the refrigerator. But that makes it the perfect make ahead dessert for a dinner party, as it is elegant in its simplicity. You can serve them plain, or topped with homemade whipped cream. My preference is fresh passion fruit seeds, which make the dish truly unforgettable.

Lemon Posset

Adapted from mrslarken on Food 52
Yield: 4 Servings

2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Zest of 1 lemon

In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue boiling for 5 minutes. Watch the heat – don’t let the cream boil over (mine did boil over even though I watched it like a hawk; eventually I got a good system down of removing the pot from the heat when it started frothing and immediately returning it).

Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice and zest. Pour even amounts into four ramekins or heatproof glasses. Let cool, about 15 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or until set. Serve with whipped cream or, better yet, fresh passion fruit seeds.


10 thoughts on “The Best Dessert You’ve Never Heard Of

  1. Nadia

    I made this for the second time yesterday afternoon, and this morning! I used a bit to top lemon cottage cheese pancakes, which Bram declared to be “the best pancakes you’ve ever made” though quickly added “but I think it’s because of this lemon cream stuff.” Well said. It’s absolutely delightful and I’ve shared the recipe with everyone I love. Thanks!

    • Katherine

      Ohh that sounds divine – what a brilliant idea to put it on pancakes! Yum. Beth made it into a pie with a cookie crust which also sounds genius: So glad you are enjoying the recipe. Again, I got it from a wonderful cook on Food52.

  2. Kathy Phelan

    Really decadent and soothing and delicious. I love lemon desserts and this is delicious. I used stevia because I’m trying to stay away from sugar.

    • Katherine

      Kathy I am so glad you liked it! I also adore lemon desserts, and I love how easy this is to prepare. Stevia is a great idea, I bet it tasted just as good!

    • Joan

      Hi Kathy: How much stevia did you use instead of the two-thirds of a cup of sugar? I’m planning to try this recipe tomorrow morning for guest coming over later.

      • Katherine

        Hi Joan! Hope this isn’t too late. Kathy wrote “As I recall you are supposed to be able to use stevia 1:1 for sugar, but that is way too sweet for me, so I probably did more like 1/3 to ½ cup.” I hope you enjoy!

    • Katherine

      I’m so happy you found me! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi 🙂 I absolutely adore this dessert – I just made it last week and it was a huge hit as always!

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