The idea for these spiced fruits came to me one winter when I wanted to evoke the scent and flavour of mulled wine. The extreme temperatures of hot fruits and chilled posset work really well together, and you can vary the fruit to suit the season.
4 lemons (approx)
850ml double cream
250g caster sugar
For the hot spiced fruits 3 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and root ends
3 Victoria plums
A small handful of blueberries or blackcurrants (optional)
A handful each of blackberries and raspberries
50g unsalted butter, diced
150g caster sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 star anise
2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
3-4tbs dark rum (optional)
Finely grate the zest from the lemons. Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice, then strain and measure it - you need 225ml.
Mix the cream, lemon zest, and sugar in a non-stick pan. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer for three minutes. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Strain the mix into a jug, pressing the zest in the sieve to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the zest.
Skim the froth off the top of the posset mix, then pour equal amounts into six whisky glasses. Leave to cool. Cover the glasses with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
When you are ready to serve, prepare and cook the fruits. Cut the rhubarb into 1cm lozenges. Halve and stone the plums. Cut the halves lengthways down the middle and cut each quarter into four equal pieces. If using blackcurrants, top and tail them.
Heat a heavy pan over a medium heat. Add the diced butter and heat until foaming, then add the rhubarb and plums. Sauté the fruits for about five minutes until they start to soften, then add the blueberries or currants (if using), the sugar, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pods into the pan and drop in the pods too. Give the fruit a good stir and add the rum (if using), then cook for a further five to eight minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the whole spices and vanilla pods and fold in the blackberries and raspberries.
Serve the possets chilled, topped with the hot fruits.
Key to perfection: The addition of a precise amount of lemon juice is crucial to the success of a posset. The acid starts off a chemical reaction in the cream, and this makes it set when it's chilled in the fridge.