Recipe: A custard that seems like magic
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Recipe: A custard that seems like magic

  • NEW YORK TIMES

    Without eggs, gelatin, cornstarch or any baking involved, these rich and silky lemon desserts are almost too easy to make.

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.

“A posset is a wonder,” Henry writes in her marvelous cookbook “Simple” (Mitchell Beazley, 2016), “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 — no eggs, gelatin or cornstarch? No water bath?

Happily, I was wrong. My posset gelled perfectly, like panna cotta without the wobble. 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.

Most posset recipes call for only three ingredients — cream, sugar and lemon juice. Henry adds orange juice and a rosemary sprig to hers. My version plays up the lemon, heightening the juice with loads of grated zest. Then I top everything with sugared strawberries dusted with black pepper, which gives a hint of spice without overwhelming the fruit.

But possets are very adaptable, so feel free to play around. Because no matter how you mix it, a posset will always make for a killer dessert.

NO-BAKE LEMON CUSTARDS WITH STRAWBERRIES

By Melissa Clark, New York Times

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 to 2 lemons)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
  • >> Strawberry topping:
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Simmer vigorously until mixture thickens slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let sit until mixture has cooled slightly and a skin forms on top, about 20 minutes.

Stir mixture, then strain into a measuring cup with a spout; discard zest. Pour mixture into six 6-ounce ramekins or small bowls.

Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, at least 3 hours.

As the custards chill, prepare the strawberry topping: Toss strawberries and sugar in small mixing bowl. Let fruit macerate at room temperature 30 minutes to 1 hour, until sugar is dissolved.

To serve, top each custard with some strawberry topping and grind black pepper on top. Serves 6.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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