I came across this recipe while browsing a cookbook that's become one of my favourites in recent years: Robert Carrier's Entertaining, published in 1977. It's not really old enough to be called a 'vintage' cookbook, but enough years have gone by to make the book seem rather quaint and fussy, at least in comparison to the lavishly illustrated, self-congratulatory extravaganzas of the Nigella-Nigel-Jamie era (I'm not knocking these icons, but don't you loathe the way they drool, in print, over their own recipes?). Still, this is a book worth hunting down, as are all of Carrier's books: it's packed with excellent recipes that deserve to be revisited.
'He was as influential as Elizabeth David or Delia Smith, and some argued that he was the link between them,' was what The Times had to say in his obituary. 'He became the leading populariser of the appeal of good cooking and helped to bring about a domestic revolution in imaginative, adventurous cooking,'
Until I saw this recipe, I hadn't heard of Elizabeth Moxon - and have found no trace online of a biography of this English cookery writer. I was very pleased, then, to find that her 1764 cookbook, English Housewifry: Exemplified in Above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts, has been digitized and is available in plain text format at Project Gutenberg, or in its original form at Google Books.
Elizabeth's Georgian recipe (which is not, strictly speaking, a posset; it's more like a syllabub) calls for 'a jack' of white wine, and advises that you sweeten the cream with sugar, 'to your taste'. Robert Carrier calls for dry white wine, and an unspecified amount of icing sugar. I compromised by using half a cup each of hanepoot and icing sugar. Feel free to adjust these quantities, but take care not to add too much wine - your dessert will become too runny and won't set to a perfect, fluffy cream.
I have frivolously decorated the tops of these creams with edible pink cake glitter, in keeping with the Elizabethan taste for bedecking food with comfits, fruit-paste shapes, spun sugar and all manner of fancies.
Serve this dessert within an hour of making it, or it will separate.
Please note that this recipe contains raw egg white.
Elizabeth Moxon's Lemon 'Posset', with Hanepoot
300 ml cream
the finely grated zest of a lemon
the juice of a lemon
½ cup (125 ml) icing sugar
½ cup (125 ml) Hanepoot, or any similar sweet white dessert wine
the white of a large egg
finely grated orange zest
Put the cream and lemon zest into a bowl and, using a whisk or an electric beater, whip until the cream is thick and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar over the top of the cream, and then pour in the dessert wine and lemon juice. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold the mixture until well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white to a soft peak and fold into the lemon cream. Pile the posset into stemmed glasses (a piping bag is the only way to do this without messing the edges) and top with a little orange zest. Place in the fridge. Just before serving, sprinkle with glitter. Serve within an hour.
Serves 4 Print Friendly