Friday, January 4, 2013


by Sheila Connolly

Last week I offered up Battenberg Cake, which involved all sort of complicated maneuvers to produce.  This week I'm talking about posset, which has a total of three ingredients.

Historically posset was a kind of drink, made with cream, spices, eggs, sugar and wine (one 1671 recipe suggested including Ambergreece and Musk as well), heated together. 

Things have changed.  I made my acquaintance with posset at the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen, County Cork.  It's a charming establishment with 34 rooms—the "grand hotel" of the town.  It sits above the small river, and the local train used to run behind it—only a few feet away.  And it has a very nice restaurant called Kennedy's.

Local mural of the way things
used to be

Kennedy's serves two kinds of meals.  At lunch they offer a carvery meal.  If you're not familiar with this, it's kind of an all-you-can-eat thing at a reasonable price, with a choice of two roasts (lamb and beef), fish, chicken, pasta, two veg, and of course, potatoes, all served cafeteria style.  There is a brown gravy that goes with everything.  It's a very popular option:  when we were there for lunch, there were elderly people (older than us, that is), families with young children, guys in nice suits, and one fellow who I swear worked in the boiler room, who the waitress treated like a regular. 

Dinner is another matter.  The chef there knows what he's doing (or maybe it's a she—I didn't ask).  The menu is not so exotic as to scare off the local patrons, but everything was carefully executed, well plated, and delicious.  And the dessert was posset.  I'd heard the name before, but I had no idea what it would turn out to be—a tart-sweet lemon custard or pudding that was a delightful end for a meal.



3 cups heavy cream

1¼ cups granulated sugar

Juice of 3 lemons

(Grated rind of lemon for garnish, if you want)


In a saucepan, combine the cream and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly (keep an eye on it so it won't boil over).  Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the lemon juice slowly (so it won't curdle), stirring constantly.  Let it cool for 10-15 minutes, then stir again.  Divide the posset into ramekins or custard cups or pretty glasses or whatever you want.  Cover and chill until set, anywhere from two hours to overnight if you want to make it ahead.

Since I didn't have martini glasses, I used what I had.
The servings may look small, but it's intense stuff.

If you want to get fancy, you can take the grated peel, mix it with a little sugar, and sprinkle over top of the possets.

And that's it!  Told you it was easy, didn't I?
First in the new County Cork Mysteries, coming February 5th.
Irish food is so much better than it used to be!




  1. Now this is something i could make!

  2. Yum! I might just make that for guests tonight.

  3. Can't wait to visit Ireland, the way you describe it Sheila!

  4. What a simple yet elegant recipe. I could see this as the perfect end to a summer seafood meal, served with a few shortbread cookies or biscotti; and I happily second Lucy/Roberta's appreciation of your Irish trip notes; a pleasure to read. (Love that mural ~ the way things used to be...)

    Have a delicious weekend,
    ~ Cleo

  5. Hey Shiela... a new series, HOW EXCITING! and indeed, Irish cooking has gotten some terrific publicity recently. The fresh local produce is getting a facelift far beyond potatoes.

    I keep looking at the recipe and wanting to add egg yolks to make a custard... hmm, going to need to file this away, cut the recipe in half (or fourths even) for just 2 servings and see what happens. i always seem to have a half cup or so of heavy cream left over from something.

    Dave, who used to be Year on the Grill

  6. Sheila, how easy and pretty, especially served in all the unique glasses on a silver tray. Yum.


  7. Three cups of heavy cream? Wow! That's some rich stuff. But I bet it's delicious. I love your presentation in different glasses. Very chic!

    ~ Krista