Not too long after Mr. Scrummy and I first met, I decided to cook him a meal. In my mind, it was going to be so delicious. And (bonus) so easy to ‘throw together’ as well. Sweet potato gnocchi with some kind of sauce – mushroom as I remember. A-hem. You can probably guess what’s coming.
Yup, it was absolutely disgusting. My over-confident self, having made gnocchi a couple of times before reasonably successfully, had decided not to bother with a recipe this time. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Just cook the sweet potato, add an egg and some flour and it’s done. Except that I really didn’t need to add as much flour as I thought. In theory, this meal had so much potential but all we could taste was flour. I think we both managed about four or five forkfuls each. Yucky yuck yuck.
I think we can all relate to this scenario. You have an idea in your mind about how something might work out, food related or otherwise, but the reality is something totally different. Just thinking off the top of my head right now, I can think of the time a friend asked me to trim his hair. I thought it would be OK, but it was absolutely terrible, poor guy. All uneven & lopsided. Oops. Then the big one is that I never expected in a million years to marry an Australian followed by spending a lot of time in planes travelling backwards and forwards halfway across the world.
Going back to food with too much flour in it, just this last weekend I made some sort of zucchini pecan muffins that were wonderful in the ‘envisaging’ stage – so moist and healthy and flavourful. In reality, they were so dense and … well, ‘floury’ … that they reminded me of that scene in the Hugh Grant film, About a Boy, when the young boy throws his mum’s bread into the pond and it’s so heavy that it kills a duck. I just ate another one to try to convince myself that they’re actually OK, but no, they’re really not. In the bin they shall go.
Of course this kind of ‘food flop’ is always disappointing, especially after you’ve researched a little, trotted off to the shops, spent ages traipsing the aisles looking for the ingredients, spent even more time clattering around the kitchen and outside taking photos and then had to clean up the disaster area of a kitchen you’ve left in your wake. When this happens to me (rather a lot lately) I just console myself with the fact that I can probably make an entertaining post out of all of these ‘misses’ at some point. Some point rather soon if I keep on with all this flopping!
Aaanyway, what I’m leading up to is to slightly boastfully tell you that this lemon posset with blueberries & macadamia shortbread is one recipe that will thankfully NOT be added to the ‘flops’ folder. I had never made a posset before, I was a bit pressured for time and I was making this to take to a dinner with friends so needed it to taste OK. Thankfully, this did end up exactly how I’d hoped it would. Phew.
‘So what on earth is a posset?’ I can imagine you asking. Well, apart from being a very old dessert, apparently dating back to medieval times, basically it’s just thick cream that’s heated with sugar and lemon juice and zest and then left to set in the fridge. That’s really it. I was worried the whole time I was making it that it wouldn’t set. I mean, there was no gelatin or thickener of any kind in it, so how could it? Well, apparently it’s the acid in the lemon juice that does the trick. I also thought it might curdle when I added the lemon juice to the cream, but no. Because of the high fat content of the cream, this doesn’t happen either. Double phew.
The resulting dessert is rich, creamy, silky, tangy and, yes, nicely set! I decided to add a simple blueberry layer that I made by heating blueberries with a little sugar for a few minutes. I also decided to make a quick macadamia shortbread to dip into the posset, which I was particularly pleased with.
This is probably one of the simplest ‘impressive’ desserts you could ever make. You could have this made and in the fridge in less time than you could run to the shops to buy a dessert. The shortbread took hardly any time to make, as well, but if you wanted to keep things even simpler and use shop bought then of course that would be fine. The only thing you need to consider when making this is to make it well before you want to eat it, because it really needs to be in the fridge for a good four or five hours to be properly set.
Also … just one little note about the shortbread. At first I thought that this was going to be added to my ‘fails’ list as well. The dough was extremely crumbly when I tried to bring it together but kneading it a little in several batches seemed to make it easier to handle. It’s definitely worth the extra few minutes of work for the lovely buttery, crumbly, nutty shortbread you end up with.
So … had any food flops lately? What about your food successes? I can’t wait to share my food flops with you someday soon, but for today I am happy to be able to share one of my great food successes! Enjoy!
Serves: serves 5 to 6
- 17 fl. ounces/500ml double cream
- 5 ounces/150 grams fine sugar
- zest & juice of 2 lemons
- 9 ounces/250 grams blueberries (I used frozen but fresh are fine, too)
- 3.5 ounces/100 grams fine sugar
- 3 ounces/90 grams icing sugar
- 5.8 ounces/165 grams butter, softened
- about 3 ounces/80 grams macadamia nut pieces
- 8.5 ounces/240 grams plain flour
- a pinch of salt
- Pour the cream into a medium-sized pan and bring it to the boil. Add the sugar and lemon juice and zest. Simmer gently for about 3 minutes, then take the mixture off the heat and let it cool for about half an hour.
- Pour the mixture into ramekins or glasses, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to set for at least 4 to 5 hours.
- Meanwhile, put the sugar into a small pan and heat it until it melts. Add the blueberries and cook for about 5 minutes until you have a compote. Take it off the heat and let it cool.
- Just before serving, spoon a thin layer of blueberry compote on top of the lemon posset.
- Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.
- Cream the butter and the sugar together with a handheld whisk, then work in the flour and macadamia nuts with a wooden spoon.
- Turn the mixture out onto a board or clean work surface and gather it up into 3 balls of dough. Knead each dough ball a little until it will come together.
- Roughly shape each ball into an oblong and then cut it into about 1-cm wide pieces with a sharp knife. You will end up with rough half-circle-shaped pieces of dough.
- Place the uncooked shortbread pieces on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the shortbread is a light golden colour.
- Leave the shortbread to cool on a cooling rack. To serve, pop a piece of shortbread into the top of each pot of dessert. Delicious!
Macadamia shortbread adapted from this recipe on bestrecipes.com.au.
Don’t worry if your dough takes a while to come together when making your macadamia shortbread. Mine was still a little crumbly when I put the shortbread on my baking tray, but I just pushed it together with a knife and it was fine.
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