Saffron-Date Posset – A Dessert You Should Know – Recipe

Date Posset
Saffron-Date Posset

One of the many great things about working at ChefSteps is that at any given moment, amazingly delicious things are subject to appear on top of the staff-food fridge, which means “come ‘n get it.” A few weeks ago, Grant or Ben or Nick, I’m not sure, put up posset.

Poss-what? Believe me, I had to ask. Posset. It is a classic English dessert, made simply of cream set into a pudding, but with acid instead of starch or egg. Starch and eggs both have a tendency to suck up flavor, and egg adds a flavor of its own, so the nice thing about posset is that it tastes only of cream and whatever you flavor it with, plus the tartness from the citric acid. (Traditionally, posset was set with wine or ale, but the citric acid is much easier and more predictable.)

Posset is also crazy easy to make. Grant sent me the base recipe as a text message: You just bring cream, sugar (15% of the cream weight), and any flavorings up to 85 C, stir in the citric acid (0.7% of the cream weight) and pour it into ramekins. Two hours of chilling later: presto, the creamiest, richest pudding imaginable.

The version I made today is flavored with date sugar and saffron. I went ahead and cooked it sous vide to give the saffron time to infuse, but you could absolutely do this on the stovetop as well. I was going for a Persian set of flavors, so the garnish was fresh dates, candied peel from a preserved lemon, pistachios and pistachio oil, with a few leaves of lemon thyme and grains of my beloved Maldon salt.

But you should absolutely feel free to improvise; posset would be good with any flavor that can handle a little sour bite from the acid. I could see honey-flavored posset, or vanilla of course, or Grant was working on jasmine posset… it is so flexible and easy that you’ll go back to it all the time.

Oh, and speaking of fun things about ChefSteps – as much as I love doing food photography, it is really cool to be working with Ryan and Kristina. I love the way Kristina got the light from the windows to just glance through the preserved lemon, like stained glass.

Saffron-Date Posset – A Dessert You Should Know – Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

1/2 cup

Saffron-Date Posset – A Dessert You Should Know – Recipe

  • 1000 grams heavy cream (about 4 cups)
  • 150 grams date sugar (about 3/4 cup)
  • 0.2 grams saffron (a generous pinch)
  • 7 grams citric acid (sour salt) (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 100 grams sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • Peel from one preserved lemon, julienned
  • Pistachio oil (as needed)
  • Honey (as needed, optional)
  • 40 toasted pistachios
  • 3 dates, pits removed, cut into small pieces
  • Lemon thyme leaves (as needed)
  • Maldon salt (as needed)
  1. Combine the cream, date sugar and saffron in a small pot or vacuum bag. If using sous vide, place in an 85 C bath for 45 minutes. On the stovetop, infuse on low heat for 10 minutes, then raise heat to medium and cook until it reaches 85 C.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the citric acid to the cream. Puree with an immersion blender to break up any lumps of date sugar. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Divide equally among 8 ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 2 hours.
  3. In your smallest pot, combine the 100 grams of plain sugar and 100 grams of water and bring to a simmer. Add the julienned preserved lemon peel and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Strain and then spread on parchment paper to cool.
  4. To serve, drizzle some pistachio oil on the posset. Drizzle with honey if using. Top with 5 pistachios, several pieces of date, a few slivers of candied preserved lemon, a few lemon thyme leaves and a few grains of salt.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, February 4th, 2013 in Desserts, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes.

18 Responses to “Saffron-Date Posset – A Dessert You Should Know – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    This looks so delicious! I wonder if it would work as well with coconut milk…

    • Reply
      February 4, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      Hey Jenne – nope, I don’t think acid will set coconut milk. You could use the same flavors but set it with a starch of your choice (cornstarch or whatever you prefer.)

  2. Reply
    February 4, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Like the previous commenter…could you make this with maybe 2% milk or a mixture of 2% and whole? I generally have trouble only eating one serving of desserts….

    • Reply
      February 4, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Hey, no I don’t think this will work with milk instead of cream – the acid will turn it into cheese curds. If you want to do a lower fat version of this dessert, your best bet would be to make it as a traditional starch or egg-set pudding.

  3. Reply
    February 5, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    I love posset!! I’ve only made lemon (delicious, especially topped with passionfruit) but have been meaning to experiment with other flavor combinations. This one definitely jumps out at me!

  4. Reply
    February 5, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    You’ve inspired me again, Michael!

    I’m making this (or a somewhat-reasonable facsimile thereof) for tonight’s dessert. Like Maria above, I can’t in good conscience consume that much cream in one sitting…too much cholesterol for me! So, I’m making mine with a combination of coconut cream and almond milk and will use either xantham gum or agar agar as a thickener.

    (Probably agar agar because it’s way more fun to say.)

    • Reply
      February 5, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Nice, let me know how it turns out! Bonus points for photos.

      • Reply
        February 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

        Hey, I’m all about getting bonus points!

        link to

        I need to tweak the recipe a bit but it’s worth tweaking. I had some separation when I first made it so I reheated it and added some sodium citrate as an emulsifier. That made it a little salty so I added the toasted coconut as a sweet counterpoint.

        Ultimately, I used 325g of almond milk and one tin of coconut cream (note that it’s cream and not milk!) with 2 g of agar agar and 10 g of sodium citrate. (It’s the sodium citrate level that I think needs tweaking.) With those amounts, the yield was four servings.

        Now that I know it works, I can pick up the ingredients for the saffron-date pudding!

        • Reply
          February 6, 2013 at 11:18 am #

          Hey Jen –

          So I checked with Chris Young, and he asked an interesting question. Does your coconut cream have any added stabilizers, likely some type of gum? It is possible they are incompatible with the agar and that might have caused the initial breaking you saw. Also, did you use the citric acid from the original recipe too, or no?


          • Jen
            February 7, 2013 at 11:05 am #

            I’ve binned the tin now so can’t answer the first question. In retrospect, I was also wondering if the separation might have been caused by the coconut solids coming out of suspension because the agar agar wasn’t setting quickly.

            I did not use the citric acid as there was no dairy & I assumed the citric acid was modifying the dairy proteins. (That assumption may or may not have any foundation in reality…LOL)

  5. Reply
    February 5, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

    Very nice, Jen! I didn’t know sodium citrate worked as an emulsifier in non-dairy situations. I’ll have to ask Chris about that tomorrow. I’ve had good luck in a dairy but no egg or gelatin situation using just 0.2% agar (Telephone brand).. here’s that recipe in case it helps as you reformulate this: link to .

  6. Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Is this essentially un-strained mascarpone?

    • Reply
      February 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Yes, that’s a good analogy – just like making mascarpone except you don’t drain off any whey, you just let it set-up undisturbed.

  7. Reply
    February 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    I’ve never had/made a posset before, but I’m a total sucker for puddings and custards, so this looks right up my alley. And so easy to make, what a bonus! I confess a giant longing for every panna cotta on every dessert menu, knowing fully that it doesn’t jive with my vegetarianism. This looks like the perfect compromise. Love your flavor combinations.

  8. Reply
    February 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    For using milk instead of cream, you could set it with rennet (or “Vegetarian rennet”) to make a junket, which has the same very delicate set as a posset.

  9. Reply
    susan ardis
    March 11, 2013 at 4:48 am #

    Posset is a very Victorian and earlier recipe. It was served in especially designed pots–called posset pots. You can see hundreds of them on google images.


  10. Reply
    May 12, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    I would really like to do this dessert but I’m finding it difficult to find Date sugar and Pistachio oil. The only Date sugar I have found is with soya flour and I have also found Date syrup. Could one of these work?

    Btw, I live in Sweden.

    • Reply
      May 12, 2014 at 5:41 am #

      I haven’t tried, but I think either one can probably work. If the date sugar just has a small amount of soy flour, that probably won’t be a problem at all. (Like a few percent.) I’d guess the syrup might just work as is, maybe reducing the amount of cream slightly to offset the additional liquid. You could always try making a half or quarter batch first to see how it goes. If you do it, let us know how it works out!

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