Posset: The Old School British Dessert That Was Once Considered Medicine

Some traditional, old foods and drinks may seem strange in origin and seem antiquated. Some are revered, and their recipes and practices are preserved, honored, and kept alive. In the same vein, they can be considered medicine before turning into just another quirky consumable.

The British posset is one such supposedly medicinal marvel. According to The Museum of the American Revolution, posset is a simple hot drink meant to be served warm and drooling. Originating in England, posset was known as a remedy for many afflictions — most notably the common cold and specifically used to treat fevers, per British Food: A History. The dish was so widespread and universally known (in England and the surrounding kingdoms) that mentions of posset have found their way into 17th-century royal medical records (King Charles I was given a posset to drink after coming down with a cold) and even the writings of Shakespeare in "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

From medicine to munchies

Historically, posset was made with curdled cream or milk mixed with some form of liquor (usually sweet ale or cherry), per British Food: A History, and it was often spiced with things like cinnamon and fruit, and fruit juices were sometimes added as well. Served hot and as a drink, this posset is a tad different from the contemporary one we see today.

According to MasterClass, possets have turned into a dessert dish akin to pudding or syllabub. Made with heavy creams, lots of sugar, and a fruit flavoring typically of lemon, the modern posset is a very smooth, decadent, and mousse-like dessert served cold. They're often topped with whipped cream and fruit as well. While these newer possets may not possess the healing powers that the older iterations were said to have had, they sure can cure you of an empty stomach. All in all, it may not break the fever, but it may give your taste buds a refresh and reset.