The recipe for Maids of Honour is an English tart made of puff pastry and filled with a mixture of sweeten cheese curd.
NOTE: There are many variations of this delightful recipe including the one I made here with Ricotta.
The history of the original recipe is interesting and dates back to the 16th century. There are a few theories as to how they received the name Maids of Honour.
It is thought that the Maids of Honour Tarts were named after Ann Boleyn’s Maids of Honour. In another case they say it was Queen Catherine of Aragon and her Ladies in Waiting which included Ann Boleyn at the time.
From that theory it’s suggested that the Maids of Honour Tart was named after Ann Boleyn herself when she was a Lady in Waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. With many theories on the table what we do know for sure is the Queen and her ladies in waiting would enjoy these dainty little treats.
King Henry the VIII was so delighted by its ‘melt-in-the-mouth’ sensation that he demanded it be kept secret and confiscated the recipe… and apparently the maid that created it.
By the 18th century the recipe was released to a bakery and the Maid of Honor Tart become a fashionable tea time addition. You can visit the Original Maids of Honour Tea House that opened in the early 18th century by Robert Newens, in Kew Surrey.
These Little Tarts have a Lovely Lemon Flavor and best when served warm.
Traditionally you would use a cheese curd but I decided to go with ricotta and they turned out delicious. I had fun with the shape and used the Nordic Bundt Brownie Pan. You can use a regular muffin pan.
Maids of Honour with Ricotta
- 1 box of ready-made puff pastry
- 1 egg
- 1 cup (230 grams) of ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup (50 grams) of ground almonds
- 3 Tablespoons (40 grams) white sugar
- 2 teaspoons of brandy (or vanilla extract)
- About 4 Tablespoons of lemon curd
- Powder sugar for dusting if desired
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius
- Lightly flour surface and roll out the ready made pastry dough.
- Use about a 3 1/4 round cutter or a coffee cup to cut out round pieces of puff pastry.
- Take your muffin pan of rounds and line them with the puff pastry pieces that you cut out.
- For the filling, whisk the egg, ricotta, almonds, sugar and the brandy (or vanilla extract) in a bowl and set aside.
- Next, add a tiny teaspoon dot of the lemon curd in the center of each puff pastry center.
- Then spoon a dessert spoon amount of the ricotta mixture on top of this.
- Bake for 8 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F or 180C and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Let them cool on a wire rack, don’t worry if they sink a little, that’s absolutely normal.
- Finish them off with a dusting of powder sugar.
- They taste best when served warm and can be re-heated if you are serving them later.