The story behind this blogpost begins in Northern Ireland at the Belle Isle School of Cookery in Enniskillen, where I spent an incredible month on a 200 acre rural estate cooking with Master Chef Liz Moore. (See, www.irishcookeryschool.com) However, in the interests of space, this blogpost will focus on only one of Chef Moore’s dessert recipes—posset. What the heck is a posset?
According to my research posset began as a British hot drink, originally of curdled milk with wine or ale, often spiced, and used in the Middle Ages as a cold and flu remedy. After the 16th Century possets were made from lemon or other citrus juice combined with cream, sugar and often eggs. Posset sets used for mixing and serving the drinks were popular gifts and heirlooms. A crystal and gold posset set given by the Spanish ambassador to Queen Mary I of England and King Phillip II of Spain when they betrothed in 1554 (believed made by Benvenuto Celini) is on display at Hatfield House in England.
Posset in its modern form refers to a dessert most often made with lemon, cream and sugar and usually chilled (although I also enjoy it warm). When cold, it is similar in consistency to a smooth mousse. An internet search yields many quick, easy and full-proof posset recipes. While I have made this enchanting dessert with either lemon or lime, my favorite local (i.e., Hawaii) citrus to use is lilikoi (aka passion fruit, shown sliced in half in the above photo).
Lilikoi are about the size and color of a lemon with a tart, seedy pulp (shown in photo). The fruit forms within 80 days of flowering on vines that climb over 20 feet per year on trees or telephone poles. The vines (often considered yard pests like the morning glory vine) maintain good productivity for 4-6 years. Although seasonal, lilikoi is available almost year round in Hawaii. The juice also freezes well.
For more practical information, see, Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa (yellow passion fruit) and this website for photos and discussion of 34 related species: www.tradewindsfruit.com
On the mainland, passion fruit can be found at Asian markets that import fruits and vegetables or online at Amazon.com. The recipe for Lilikoi Posset is below:
2 C cream (1 pint whipping cream)
1/2 C sugar (I have used only 1/3 C)
1/3 to 1/2 C lilikoi juice (juice of 2 lemons, if using lemon)
1/2 Tsp vanilla (optional; I do not use vanilla with lilikoi)
In a saucepan, bring the cream to a rolling boil and maintain for 3 minutes (I time it). Remove from stove and whisk in sugar and juice, then pour into ramekins and chill (8 hours or overnight to ensure it is firm). Use small ramekins (I use espresso cups) and serve with a fresh raspberry or mint leaf on top. Enjoy.