lemon posset à la Poires au Chocolat

We have arrived safely back in Perth after what was a whirl-wind trip in NZ. I feel like I could have easily spent another month or two in Raglan to do all that I wanted to do, but alas, the real world was calling. While I unpack and get back to my recipe testing, the lovely Emma from Poires au Chocolat has stopped by to share a beautiful, easy recipe with you all. Emma's blog is one of my all time favourites. Not only do we share the same name but also our love for all things sweet. Emma's photo of her Butterfly Fleur de Sel Caramel Layer Cake is how I first found her and even now it still takes my breath away, while her Caramelised White Chocolate Éclairs have had me thinking I might have to invent a gluten-free version when I have a little extra time. Thanks so much Emma, love your work xx ~Emm

Hello there, I'm Emma (not the Emma, another Emma!) and I write about baking and desserts at Poires au Chocolat. I'm honoured that Emma asked me to write a post for My Darling Lemon Thyme. I'm not going to lie - I struggled to find something to write about. I was having one of those weeks where every recipe I tried went a bit pear-shaped, and when you add in trying to make things gluten free - well, it was a stressful few days. In the end, I decided to revisit a classic that never fails me: lemon posset.

It's a simple dessert made from three ingredients: cream, sugar and lemon juice.


Possets have a long and interesting history - they've been made for over seven hundred years, though they fell out of fashion in the 19th century. Traditionally, a posset was a drink made from hot milk or cream curdled with an acid like fortified wine, ale or (occasionally) citrus juice and usually sweetened and spiced. Up until they fell out of favour, possets were drunk as the celebration toast at British weddings at all levels of society (see here for a few recipes and pictures of special posset pots).

Possets were also thought to be an excellent remedy for minor illnesses - colds and so on - and were used as a general restorative. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth drinks a posset to fortify herself as she drugs the guards - with more posset, this time laced - before waiting, bold but skittish, as Macbeth kills the king.

"That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold:
What hath quench'd them hath given me fire. - Hark! Peace!
It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
Which gives the stern'st good-night. He is about it.
The doors are open; and the surfeited grooms
Do mock their charge with snores: I have drugg'd their possets"
Macbeth II.ii 

A modern day posset doesn't have quite the same kick, but it's a lovely dessert. It often pops up on pub menus and is technically now more of a syllabub than a posset. The mixture doesn't visibly curdle, just thickens, a bit like magic. They're very smooth and creamy but not too rich in small portions. I like making them when I'm having friends over - they keep in a fridge for a few days and don't require lots of final touches.


Lemon Posset
(Adapted from a combination of Food 52, James Martin and Nigel Slater

150ml cream (UK double cream, about 45-50% fat)
50g caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice (1/2 - 3/4 of a lemon)

Pour the cream into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved (to check, rub a little of the mixture between your fingertips - if it feels smooth instead of gritty, it's ready). Turn the heat up to high. When you see small bubbles come up to the surface in the middle of the pan, start a timer for 3 minutes. The mixture should vigorously bubble up. When the timer rings, take the pan off the heat and time one more minute. When it rings, stir in the lemon juice. Leave for 15 minutes, then divide between two ramekins. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving (or up to two or three days).

(Serves 2, easily multiplied up)


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  • Reply
    March 25, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I am no chef so I love easy to follow minimal ingredient recipes and this fits the bill. Love. Will try when I have my girlfriend and her husband over for easter.

    • Reply
      March 25, 2013 at 10:05 am

      Even though I am a chef, I still think easy is good. Always 🙂 xx

  • Reply
    March 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

    I love lemons! I am making lemon bars tomorrow. I love the history explanation as well. Thanks you for sharing

  • Reply
    March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    Two of my favourite Emma bloggers in one post! Lemon posset is a firm favourite of mine too – my friend always used to make it for dinner parties and ask people to guess the ingredients because it is so simple and delicious.

    • Reply
      March 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      🙂 xx

  • Reply
    March 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    So fun to have two of my favorite Emmas in one place this morning! xoxo E

    • Reply
      March 25, 2013 at 3:01 pm

      🙂 I'd love to have you on here too one day Erin! I knew you'd be as crazy busy with your book as I am with mine at the moment though… so thought it best to leave you in peace. Hope all is going well xx

  • Reply
    Colette Just for Foodies
    March 25, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Yum Yum

  • Reply
    The InTolerant Chef ™
    March 26, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Ooh delicious! I will make this on the weekend for littlej who is having too write a 1000 word persuasive essay on Lady Macbeth's role on the death of the king 🙂 Perhaps this dessert might help cheer het up 🙂

    • Reply
      Emma Gardner
      March 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      I love that! I think it would be very relevant 🙂

  • Reply
    london bakes
    March 27, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Lemon posset is one of my favourite desserts (and Emma is another one of my favourites). Just lovely!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2013 at 6:39 am

    I think I can cook but I am no connoisseur when it comes to cooking. But this dish sounds simple to pull off never the less delicious. I have to try it out this weekend for sure. AND who does't love desserts!!!!! 😀 Cheers to our sweet tooth.

    • Reply
      March 30, 2013 at 3:40 am

      Cheers 🙂

  • Reply
    March 28, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Such a simple and beautiful recipe!!

  • Reply
    Tartlet Sweets
    March 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    This is wonderful! I have never heard of a posset, but I love love the history behind it, and it sounds like a delicious treat. Will definitely have to try!

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    March 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    So nice to see Emma's guest post here. I'd love to slather some lemon posset's on a puff!

  • Reply
    March 29, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Making lemon posset is so satisfying because it's wonderfully easy, wonderfully quick, not very expensive and yet, for some reason, the finished dessert really impresses those you serve it to!

    I've served it with candied lime (dried rind, cooked in sugar syrup, coated in sugar and dried) and I've served it with confit clementines (whole oranges cooked in sugar syrup and stored in the syrup so they stay gooey and sticky). Both work very well, I think.

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