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Lemon Possets & Strawberry Jelly, with Orange Shortbread

Three simple and very easy recipes combine to make a cold elegant dessert, a far cry from the original posset which was a hot drink to aid sleep, it’s even referenced in Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish play’ when Lady MacBeth uses drugged possets to knock out Duncan’s guards… ‘Mock, their charge with snores, I have drugged their possets’ apparently. These days however, it’s mainly snores of contentment after a fitting treat to herald the end of a great meal

makes 6-8 dependent on the size of your glasses/ramekins

Method: Strawberry Jelly

  • Set up a pan of simmering water, suitable for your mixing bowl to sit on.
  • Make up 400ml of the cordial, you could also use other cordials Belvoirs Elderflower and Rose or Raspberry and Rose are great substitutes, Fresh orange juice for a St Clements…whatever takes your fancy and floats your boat!
  • I tend to cut up leaf gelatine into smaller pieces and place into a heatproof bowl, add enough of your prepared cordial/juice and put to one side to soften, about 8-10 minutes. Once softened put the bowl on top of simmering pan and stir until the gelatine has melted completely. Now add the rest of your cordial stir and then pour the contents of the bowl through a fine sieve into a measuring jug.
  • If using diced strawberries or any other fruit, divide them between your glasses/ramekins
    Slowly pour the unset jelly in.
  • If you have time, certainly if you’re doing these in advance, pour a little jelly in, just enough to cover a few strawberry dices, now set them in the fridge, if you keep the
    the measuring jug in a pan of warm water the rest of the jelly will remain unset, when the first ‘level’ in the glasses looks like it’s setting, add more strawberries and pour in the rest of the jelly, this way you’ll have fruit layers halfway up the glass…
  • Whichever you decide on fill the glasses/ramekins at least halfway, leaving room for the posset. Place in the fridge to set, after a few hours check them, once they are set you can prepare your posset mix. In the meantime you can make the Orange Shortbread

Method: Orange Shortbread

  • Oven at 170c or equivalent.
  • In a mixing bowl combine the flour and sugar
  • Rub in the butter, and combine to make a dough as it starts to come together add the zest
  • Do not overwork the dough, don’t knead the dough…it’ll make for tasty, yet tough biccies…
  • and take the short out of shortbread!
  • As it comes together I tip it onto a large piece of clingfilm and loosely press and fold  it all together
  • Tip the lot onto a tray lined with baking paper and either press or use a rolling pin to spread it out across the tray, 1cm thick is ideal
  • You can score the pattern of your biscuits now, use cutters, knives, etc and lightly indent the dough, this will make it easier after baking to cut your desired shapes out
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar and pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, keep an eye on them though, you want a lovely golden colour
  • As soon as they’re done take them out, I usually sprinkle some more caster on them but that’s just my preference
  • Now leave them to cool

Method: Lemon Posset

  • Finely grate the zest of one of the lemons, we use fine microplane graters on tour and at home, they’re perfect for the job…however if you only have a box grater use the finest side of that and get as much from the teeth as you can
  • Juice both the lemons and measure out 100ml
  • Put the zest and juice in a pan with all the sugar, slowly bring to the boil, stir to ensure the sugar dissolves, once the sugar has dissolved remove from the heat and reserve to one side
  • In a separate saucepan gently bring the cream and cinnamon to the boil, pour the hot cream into the lemon syrup whilst whisking to combine completely, the ingredients will react with each other to thicken the cream…taste it, occasionally I feel a splash more lemon juice is needed just to make the pinch of cinnamon a bit more of a subtle note; it’s up to you..if you do add more make sure it’s combined thoroughly
  • Now, pour the posset through a fine sieve onto your set jellies, do this slowly to avoid bubbles on the posset surface, it’s not crucial…after all it gives us the excuse to hide the ‘bubbles’ with creme chantilly and other lovely stuff!
  • Let them cool down then pop them in the fridge to set

The Fun bit

Whip up some creme chantilly (see Pavlova recipe) and pipe some on top of the possets, add a few chopped pieces of Pistachio or Lemon Turkish Delight and a chocolate pencil….toasted almonds sprinkled over…lovely stuff.

You could dip the shortbread in melted dark chocolate and leave to set, the bitterness of the chocolate a great match for the lemon hit of the posset.

Why stop there?

We do lots of versions of this dessert in a glass, sometimes we’ll put a winter berry compote in the bottom, then a layer of posset, once that sets ,a layer of coulis and posset…the coulis bleeds into the posset before it sets, lovely….top with crushed nut brittle.

  • Try other flavours of jelly and posset, I’ve done liquorice versions topped with mini pontefract cakes.
  • Langues de Chat (cats tongue biscuits) can replace the shortbread, either make them or buy them in.
  • Short on time? Buy ready to make jelly, just add fruit for that homemade look.
  • Alcholic version? Make a jelly of your favourite tipple and top it with a tiny layer of posset….vodka and lemon, why not.
  • There are no rules.



  • 260 plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 125g  unsalted butter
  • 60g   golden caster sugar
  • Zest of a large orange


  • Belvoir Rhubarb and Strawberry cordial
  • Diced strawberries (optional)
  • Three leaves of gelatine or powdered equivalent


  • 2 x lemons
  • 125g Golden Caster Sugar
  • 425g Double Cream
  • Pinch of Cinnamon

Chef’s Tip

The shortbread can be made with Stork margarine instead of butter, it makes for a great biscuit 

They can be made using the creaming method in a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together then add the flour and fold in by hand, again don’t overwork the dough