Weekend bake: Pink grapefruit posset with lavender & almond shortbread

It’s a bit late in the day for a weekend bake. Then again, I seem to be late for a lot of things recently as I am exhausting all of my energies juggling a new job and trying to find a new place to live in London, which, if you’ve ever run the Spareroom gauntlet, you’ll understand is no mean feat.

But, aside from all of that and preparing for the imminent struggle of hauling my life from one end of this busy city to other in a few weeks time, I did manage to enjoy this glorious weather we’ve been having this weekend and slip in a picnic with close friends in Battersea Park.

I also managed to indulge my insatiable sweet tooth and knock up a little afternoon treat: a zingy, creamy blush-coloured posset that’s simply bursting with sweet sunshine.

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I can never resist creamy desserts. I remember I used to spend half my working evening at my first restaurant job lusting over the homemade panna cottas that wobbled seductively at me every time I opened the kitchen fridge.

This posset is similar to a panna cotta, only much simpler to make and it really is as creamy a dessert as you can get…in fact it only has three ingredients: cream, sugar and fruit.

Possets are ancient puddings made from cooked cream that used to be curdled with alcohol instead of the acid from fruit that is used today.

They were originally given as curative medication for fevers or colds…it’s unlikely that I’m going to find that prescription recommended on the NHS website these days but it’s definitely something I’ll remember next time I come down with a cold!

“It is mentioned in the Journals of the House of Lords in the year 1620 that King Charles I was given a posset drink from his physician… Shakespeare mentions possets several times in his writings, in Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5, he mentions the posset’s medicinal properties and that it is made from curds”
– British Food History 

I’m not convinced I’m suffering from any particularly life threatening fevers at the moment (unless Spring fever counts), but there’s no doubt that this little pot of soft, unctuous goo did me the world of good and hopefully it’ll brighten anyone’s weekend who needs a little sugary boost.

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This is the perfect dinner party pudding for summer as you can make it hours in advance. You’ll probably want to use fancier glasses than I did if you’re making it for a party…that’s one of the things about house sharing, all of your crockery and utensils are a mish-mash of collected and found pieces.

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Pink grapefruit posset with lavender & almond shortbread

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Ingredients
for the posset

300ml double cream
100g caster sugar
2 pink grapefruits (100ml freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and the rind from two grapefruits)

for the shortbread

125g salted butter
55g caster sugar
130g plain flour
50g ground almonds
1 tsp dried lavender – I like to use delicately dried lavender from Bart. Be careful not to put too much in or your biscuits run the risk of tasting a bit like an old lady’s knicker drawer!

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Method
  • Pop some assorted small glasses into the fridge to keep cool.
  • The possets take up to three hours to set in the fridge so get these out of the way first. Grate the rind from your two grapefruits before slicing and squeezing them to make 100ml of juice.
  • Pour the cream and sugar into a saucepan and heat over a medium heat and keep stirring it until the sugar has dissolved. Let it come to the boil for a minute before taking off the heat and quickly stirring through the grapefruit juice and rind.
  • Pour into your cooled glasses and put back in the fridge until set and firm with a little wiggle – this should take 2-3 hours.
  • Make these quick shortbread biscuits by beating the butter and sugar together to a creamy pulp before adding the flour, ground almonds and lavender.
  • Mix together until it forms a soft dough. Shape balls of the dough into rounds or soft ovals with your hands and push down onto a greased baking sheet.
  • Leave these to cool down and firm up in the fridge before cooking – too much handling makes the butter in these break down into an oily mess.
  • Bake at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes until they turn a soft golden brown and leave to cool before dusting with icing sugar and serving with the possets.

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