I found this recipe in an old New Zealand Woman’s Weekly (May, 2004). While the original recipe called these custards, they are in fact possets – an old fashioned English dessert made with cream, lemons and sugar. I’ve changed the name accordingly. Having said that, the recipe calls for a sugar top which is caramelised, which takes it more into brulee territory. So it is, in fact, a bit of a hybrid.
Just to note: I didn’t brulee the possets; I tried it on one of the puddings and thought it kind of ruined the pretty effect of the berries popping through the pale yellow surface. It also, to my palette at least, made it too sweet. So I left them as they were. A light dusting of icing sugar on top is all they need to balance the tartness of the lemon.
What I loved about this recipe is that it was SO fast and SO easy and yet everyone raved about it. One addition I made to the recipe was that I added a whole vanilla bean into the cream mixture, which flavoured it beautifully. Next time I’m going to use rhubarb instead of berries, which I think would be another winning combination.
LEMON BERRY POSSETS
2 cups mixed berries – can be frozen; no need to thaw
¾ cup caster sugar
Optional: 1 vanilla bean (with seeds scraped out and included)
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
Icing sugar (about a teaspoon per ramekin)
Divide the berries between 6 small ramekins (enough berries to cover the bottom of each dish).
Place the cream, vanilla bean and seeds (if using), and caster sugar in a saucepan and bring to a steady simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes – an important step for the custard to set.
Remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean (if using), and whisk in the grated rind and lemon juice. Pour over the berries and cool. You’ll notice some of the berries bob up to the top – this is perfectly normal and looks great. Chill overnight, or at least 8 hours, until set firm.
You can serve the custards as they are, or dusted with a little icing sugar. Or, as per the original recipe, you can add about a teaspoon of icing sugar over top of each custard and place under a hot grill (or use a chef’s torch) to scorch the icing sugar and caramelize the tops. The underneath berries and lemon custard will be cold and firm and the top hot and melted. Serve immediately.