Maid of Honour Tarts

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 0 0

My grandmother was always put on the most fabulous family get-togethers. She was an amazing homemaker, very skilled at flower arranging and table setting and decor, a good cook, and most importantly, from my eyes as a child, a superb baker. Whenever I visited, there were always homemade cookies in the cookie jar and when Christmas rolled around, her baking overflowed her kitchen cupboards. The best part about family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were the amazing dessert spreads – I came to think it was normal to have 2 kinds of pie, 3 types of tarts, cookies, and chocolates for dessert.

 

I have been thinking about what to bake for Christmas this year and it got me thinking about my grandma’s Christmas baking – 2 types of shortbread, mincemeat tarts, butter tarts, and my favourite as a child – Maid of Honour tarts.

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Maid of Honour tarts are a simple-tasting tart – pastry filled with jam and topped with light almond-flavoured crust. But they are so much more. I was having trouble digging up my grandma’s exact recipe, and ended up finding this recipe online. Last night I did a test-bake well in advance before Christmas, and o.m.g. They were exactly like my grandma’s.

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I can not tell you how thrilled I am to be able to bake my grandma’s Maid of Honour tarts. It means so much, especially because Alzheimer’s disease is slowly consuming my grandma and she will never be baking again. I am happy to carry on her legacy.

Maid of Honour Tarts
{adapted from this recipe}

For the pastry:
2 cups unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup ice cold water
4 cups good quality unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the crust topping:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup white rice flour

Additional ingredients:
Medium-size jar raspberry jam {or you can use any flavour jam really!}

Directions:
In a food processor, make the pastry. Combine the flour, salt and sugar and pulse for 10 seconds to combine. In a separate small bowl, combine egg, water, and vinegar and whisk to combine. Set aside. Add well-chilled butter {I froze mine for a few minutes} to the flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse to combine so the mixture resembles large rice granules. Gradually add the egg mixture and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Dough should be sticky and resemble pie crust dough. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and chill for 2-4 hours. {I was in a hurry so I chilled for only 1 hour and it turned out fine!}

Next, make the crust topping. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until well combined. Add eggs one and a time and beat until fluffy. Add almond extract. Slowly incorporate flour, mixing at low speed. Cover bowl with saran wrap and chill until tart assembly.

Once your pastry dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry dough and crust topping bowl from fridge. Let stand for 10 minutes. To assemble tarts, first fill tart pans with the pastry dough by pinching off a 1 1/2 tablespoon size piece of dough and pressing it into the pan so the entire surface is covered. Make sure there are no holes or the jam will leak through! Then, place 1 tsp jam in the centre of each tart. Top the tarts with 1 tbsp crust topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown. {I had to bake a full 25 minutes.} Cool tarts on wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from tart pan. Try not to eat them all at once. ;)

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