17th Century: Sack Posset

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    8–10

    posset pots or teacups

Appears in

Pride and Pudding: The History of British Puddings, Savoury and Sweet

Pride and Pudding

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2016

  • About

Although similar to a syllabub, the posset is much richer because it is more like a custard than a cream. Possets were served in a ceramic posset pot, which looked a little like a teapot with two handles. They were usually very decorative and were extremely expensive to buy. This dish is therefore, again, one of high standard.

Possets were originally more drinks than they were puddings and were often given to people in rich households when they were feeling unwell.

My Lord of Carlisle’s Sack-Posset

Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up.

Sir Kenelm Digby, The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Knight Opened, 1669

Ingredients

  • 850 ml (29 fl oz) thin (pouring) cream
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 mace blade
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 230 ml ( fl oz) sherry or Madeira (for an alcohol-free posset, use orange or lemon juice)
  • 100 g ( oz) raw sugar

Method

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer with the spices, then remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks and whites in a clean saucepan, then pour in the sherry (or juice, if preferred) and sugar. Put the saucepan over medium–high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly; do not let it boil. Turn down the heat and pour the cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.

Pour the mixture into pots or teacups and rest for a couple of minutes. Serve with a spoon while still warm or chill in the fridge if you prefer.