08 May 2011

A tea-time treat

Lovely for a tea party, these "Maids of Honor" have long been a favorite in my family.  I think they've shown up at showers, Christmas brunches, and, of course, the occasional tea party that's been thrown here in my home.  And when I was invited to a tea in honor of the recent Royal Wedding, I knew these pastries were just the thing to bring along.

The party was loads of fun--a lazy, sunny Santa Barbara afternoon, ladies and gentlemen dressed in their finest spring wear, and an array of delicious treats and hilarious antics.  Slowing down and catching up with friends, forgetting the passage of time, and, just being.  So refreshing.

Each personal-size pastry has a delicate crust filled with a lightly sweet, slightly tangy sour cream custard that's flavored with lemon zest and a sprinkling of cardamom.  After baking, they're finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar.  A perfect complement to a cup of tea and a scone or two!

Maids of Honor
Adapted from Malcom Hillier's "Entertaining"
Makes 12-18 pastries

Pastry Shell:
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup butter
5 to 7 Tbs. cold water

Custard Filling:
Scant 1 cup (200ml) light sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbs. sugar
½ lemon, zest only
½ tsp. ground cardamom or nutmeg
powdered (confectioners) sugar

For the pastry dough, sift together flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, then cut in shortening with a few pulses until butter is the size of small peas.  Adding one tablespoon of water at a time, pulse until dough clumps together.  Divide into two portions and wrap in plastic wrap, flattening into 1/2-inch thick discs.  Refrigerate until cool.

Roll out the pastry dough to just under 1/4-inch thickness, then cut out pastry rounds using a 3-inch (7.5cm) fluted cutter.  Place pastry rounds into muffin-tin holes and chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients (except the cardamom). Spoon the mixture by tablespoonfuls into the chilled pastry shells, then sprinkle each of the tops with cardamom.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Leave in muffin tin for 2 minutes before cooling on a wire rack. When cooled, dust generously with powdered sugar.

Note:  These pastries, in my opinion, are quite good even after being refrigerated and served the next day slightly chilled.  If you make them ahead of time, you may want to re-dust them with powdered sugar, since the sugar tends to be absorbed into the custard.


Susan said...

Smashing presentation! Such pretty little tarts and your dishes are very pretty, too!

erica said...

Thanks Susan! The dishes were purchased from Rosenthal while on a trip to Germany years ago--they always bring back nice memories. :)

Jun said...

I hope I can find the ingredients... Then I can eat this with tea every afternoon!

tori said...

These look just beautiful- perfect for a bridesmaid/brideslave afternoon tea. Bookmarking now- thank you!

Laken said...

Okay, these sound amazing. Bookmarked :)

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