I’m a sucker for British terminology. (And really, any words – food-related or not – spoken with a British accent.) I’m sure it has nothing to do with my current (late!) obsession with Downton Abbey, and trying to catch up late at night when everyone else is asleep. This morning I couldn’t take it any longer and baked myself a batch of currant scones to nibble with coffee whilst finishing season 3.
If I’m to be perfectly honest here, I’m typing this with a British accent.
Last night I cooked dinner for 20 in the CBC studio – it was a meal auctioned off at a fundraiser, and we had friends from Heritage Park and a few familiar CBC voices around the table. I cooked upstairs in the wee cafeteria kitchen, and made vast quantities (enough for the night crew in the news room too) of Ina Garten’s Indonesian ginger chicken (success!) and Vietnamese fried rice and Szechuan green beans, and for dessert, Meyer lemon and Key lime possets with toasted coconut shortbread alongside. (I was wooed by a pile of Meyer lemons at the store last week, and had a bag of Key limes for warm honey drinks to ward off my cold. When you’re presenting a menu on a printed-out card on each place setting as a sort of mental amuse-bouche, the more adjectives you have to work with, the better.)
I was totally lured in by the word posset… maybe because it sounds like the dessert version of poppet, the ultimate term of endearment-slash-pudding. In real life (read: not my head) posset refers to an old English drink of hot milk curdled with ale (yuk), and it’s likely the curdled part that bridges these two, but let’s not think about curdled milk here. These wee pots are perfectly smooth, similar to crème brûlée and pot de crème and panna cotta (French and Italian, respectively) yet not baked nor jelled. The cream and sugar are heated together then combined with lemon and lime juice, cooled and chilled, and some sort of magic happens that turns them into soft, creamy pud reminiscent of Key lime pie. The citrus reacts with the milk and allows it to set. If you’ve ever made Key lime pie, the same thing happens when you mix canned sweetened condensed milk and lime juice.
The process truly cannot be any easier, nor tastier. These are divine. Perfectly set and smooth, with no risk of scrambled egginess nor settled, undissolved gelatin. The taste is pure and clean, whether you use lemons and limes with fancy names or the regular ones you might already have in the fridge – and other winter citrus might be just as delicious. The tastiest science experiment I’ve ever done.
Meyer Lemon & Key Lime Possets
Adapted from the May, 2007 issue of Bon Appétit.
2 1/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice
Bring the cream and sugar to boil over medium-high heat, then cook for 3 minutes, stirring it with a whisk, turning the heat down or lifting the pot from the burner as it tries to boil over.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon and lime juice and let it sit for 5 minutes or so to cool a bit. Stir again and divide among six 1/2-cup ramekins or small dishes. Cover (or not) and chill for an hour or two, until set.
Makes 6 possets.
January 20 2014 01:00 am | dessert