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King William’s Posset

Watch our historic foodways staff cook this recipe, then try it at home

A dish that resembles a custard yet is not, possets are primarily made for drinking. It can be spooned from the bowl as well.

18th Century

Take a quart of cream, and mix it with a pint of ale, then beat the yolks of ten eggs, and the whites of four; when they are well beaten, put them to the cream and ale; sweeten it to your taste, and slice some nutmeg in it; set it over the fire, and keep it stirring all the while; when it is thick, and before it boils, take it off, and pour it into the bason you serve it in to the table.

— Smith, Eliza, “The Compleat Housewife,” 1758.

21st Century


  • 1 quart of whipping cream
  • 1 pint of ale
  • 10 medium egg yolks
  • 4 medium egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar (or less according to your preference)
  • 1 tsp. grated nutmeg


  1. In a large stew pan combine the cream and ale and whip them together gently with a whisk.
  2. In a mixing bowl vigorously whip your egg whites until very frothy. Add the egg yolks to the whites and continue to whip until very well blended and add to the cream and ale.
  3. Add the sugar and nutmeg. Over a medium heat cook the mixture, stirring all the while, until it thickens. This should not be runny and not a thick custard either.
  4. It can be served from a small punch bowl to individual bowls or in glasses.

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