Sack Posset – A Rich Pudding To Cure All Ills

sack posset – a rich pudding to cure all ills_page

Although similar to a syllabub, posset is much richer because it is more like a custard than a cream. Possets were served in ceramic posset pots, which looked a bit like a teapot with two handles. They were usually very decorative and extremely expensive to buy. This dish is therefore one of a high standard. Posset was originally more of a drink than a pudding and was often given to people in rich households when they were feeling unwell.

My Lord of Carlisle’s Sack-Posset original recipe:

Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up.

The recipe is from: The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Kt. Opened, commonly known as The Closet Opened, an English cookery book first printed in 1669. It is supposedly based upon the writings of Sir Kenelm Digby, being as the title page states “published by his son’s consent”.

The book gives recipes for traditional English dishes such as meat pies, pasties and syllabub, but also reflects on Digby’s travels around Europe, with recipes such as “Pan Cotto, as the Cardinals use in Rome”. The book echoes an earlier age with some hundred recipes for brewing mead and metheglin.

The Recipe

Makes 8–10 posset pots or teacups

850 ml (29 fl oz) thin (pouring) cream
1 cinnamon stick
1 mace flake
6 egg yolks
3 egg whites
230 ml (7¾ fl oz) sherry or Madeira
(for an alcohol-free posset, use orange or lemon juice)
100 g (3½ oz) raw sugar


[1] In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer with the spices, then remove from the heat.

[2] Whisk the egg yolks and whites in a clean saucepan, then pour in the sherry (or juice, if preferred) and sugar. Put the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly; do not let it boil. Turn down the heat and pour the cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.

[3] Pour the mixture into pots or teacups and rest for a couple of minutes. Serve with a spoon while still warm or chill in the fridge if you prefer.