Friday, June 12, 2009

Maids in the Shade - Easy Richmond Maids of Honor

Richmond Maids of Honor 2

You will want a translation, of course. Recipes are hard enough to follow at times without the added distress of being expected to dig up a coffin from some place. No, this isn't a spooky Halloween concoction months ahead of its time, but a rather simple-to-prepare dessert once you get past the funky Old English alphabet and lingo:
Take cream or almond milk, add egg with sugar, saffron and salt. Mix it
up. Pour it in a two-inch deep pastry case. Bake it well and serve it.
Recorded in the earliest English manuscript of cooking instruction, The Forme of Cury 1390 AD, Daryols (from the French) are custard tarts that have enjoyed many permutations through the ages, and are chiefly known today as Richmond Maids of Honor. Richmond, the London borough where King Henry VIII held court in Hampton Palace, claims direct titular connection to the diminutive treats, although the many theories seem to be based on legend or romantic fancies rather than hard facts. Regardless of their correct origin, Maids of Honor hold a special place on British tea tables and are one of the most foolproof cheesecake recipes available. Many medieval dishes revel in a certain elaborate simplicity, more elementary and primitive than exacting, despite ingredients that were exotic, priceless, and often exclusively for the consumption of royalty. With our modern conveniences of prepared pastry and jam, these hand-held gems can be ready for your tea (or coffee) in hardly more than half an hour, which will give you that much more time to linger in a little royal luxury all your own.

Richmond Maids of Honor 3

Phyllo Cup
A "coffyn" made of phyllo.
Richmond Maids of Honor (Daryols) - My own streamlined recipe adapted from the 18th Century edition of The Forme of Cury by Samuel Pegge, above. The original 1390 AD manuscript can be found here, (in the Medieval Collection of The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester: The Forme of Cury, images 84v, 85f).

40 miniature pastry cups (I used phyllo.)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds (If you use pre-sweetened marzipan or almond paste, omit the sugar.)
1 egg
1 tablespoon almond extract (You can also use vanilla.)
1/2 cup jam of your choice (I used Francis Miot's Plaisir du Vert Galant, a lovely medieval-inspired indulgence from Alex, a friend who returned from Paris bearing beautiful gifts. Virtually impossible to find in the U.S., this is the sort of rarefied culinary treasure that you will not want to squander on a slice of aerated, flaccid white bread; better you should savor it by little licks directly off an ice-cold spoon.)
Francis Miot Plaisir du Vert Galant Confiture

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange pastry cups on a cookie sheet and place in oven for 4-5 minutes to crisp. Remove from oven and reserve.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and light. Sequentially beat in sugar, ground almonds, egg and almond extract until well blended.

Fill each pastry cup with a level teaspoon of batter. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the filling is shiny, cracked and set. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with scant and slapdash 1/2 teaspoons of jam; no need to be precise and fancy. Makes 40 two-bite tarts. --
Richmond Maids of Honor 1

This recipe is for Mansi of Fun and Food, hosting Sugar High Friday - Fruit & Nut for Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, creator of Sugar High Friday, the long-running and popular monthly event.

Been There, Done That ~
Yorkshire Parkin
Almond Cherry Tarts
Simnel Cake

Other People's Eats ~
Richmond Maids of Honour


  1. My jaw is still hanging open: these are ... I can't find the words! They're like the miniature cheesecakes my mom used to make, but fancier. I'll make these when my family gets together later this summer.

  2. I love the culinary history in this post. Very enjoyable and informative.

  3. what an interesting recipe. Look so nice !

  4. What wonderful tartlets! Really delicious looking!



  5. What a pleasure to read this post! I love the photo of the phyllo coffyn. And indeed, savoring jam by licking a spoon is a deeply satisfying experience. Actually, I have a plan of getting more into making jam this summer. We'll see what happens.

  6. Oh my gosh. I want to make these, and I don't even like to bake!

  7. wow, i love that old recipie!
    They look delicious...i wonder if they would work with vegan cream cheese and not-egg :)

  8. Susan, these are soo pretty! I love the photo opf the jam jar with the sunlight at the background. You are a beautiful artist with your food, words and photos!

  9. We recently bought some apricot and blueberry coffins! And they did taste death-like! I snipped off the pastry and ate the filling because I couldn't bear to let everything go to waste!

    Nice touch with the Old English pic there!

  10. How lovely does these look, Susan!!
    I bet they tasted wonderful! So, this is a must try recipe! yummie indeed!

  11. Delicately beautiful! I want some now & the wonderful jam too.

  12. Thanks for the wonderful background information! I love learning the stories behind the foods we enjoy, it adds character to them and, somehow, makes me feel connected to their roots, transported in time!
    These look delicious, perfect for some tea :)

  13. Susan, I have been in awe of your photos and writing ever since I started following your blog, but this post goes to another level. You are most definitely going to have a gorgeous published book if you want that. No question. I ADORE the photo of the old manuscript and the history!! And I have been thinking about having a tea party this summer. Now I know at least one of the things I will be serving.

  14. Susan, these are just gorgeous. Talk about a way to wow your guests!

  15. hello! i stumbled upon your blog while looking for a recipe for steamed red bean buns, which i made today and were absolutely delicious, just like the ones from a chinese bakery! your recipes look so good, and the photos are wonderful! i also appreciate the background and story telling that goes along with each recipe. i can't wait to try these maids of honor!! i'm so glad i found your blog...thanks so much for sharing! :)

  16. These are amazing and delicious!! I can put them all in my wide mouth LOL!!

    ps, i've been out for a while glad to see your delicious creations once again!

  17. These are great - I really love how you handled this recipe!

  18. oh my!!! this looks very yummmyyyy!!!

  19. I love the look of these! Jam, pastry....tempting!

  20. Susan, you always make me want to go cook/bake after I'm done reading and viewing your posts!

  21. These look amazing, Susan--I'd eat anything served in a phyllo cup, I think, but these look extra special. And I love the short ingredient list.

  22. Oh, these are lovely, Susan. They remind me of the little custard tarts we ate in Portugal. Thank you for sharing them.

  23. hey Susan! thanks so much for baking these beauties for me!! they look awesome, and I bet they smelled amazing too:) they remind me of the petite desserts I relished in Europe!

  24. Ruhama – Thanks so much. They are fancy, but very simple to make. Hope you and your family enjoy them.

    Hi, Rachel! Good to see you. I thought you'd like this one. ; )

    Snooky D – Thank you!

    Thank you, Rosa.

    Simona – Thank you very much. Jam is easier than you know; if you make small batches that are consumed quickly, you don't have to fuss with the meticulous sterilization/jarring process.

    Pam - : D Thanks!

    Rose – Thank you. I suspect a vegan version would work, indeed, but no stinting on the extract to keep the flavor rich.

    Thank you, dear Anh! So very good to see you back.

    Sra – Thanks. Hardly anything is worse than bad pastry. ; |

    Thanks so much, Sophie!

    Hi, Marta! Thank you. I am glad you found this post as pleasurable to read as it was for me to write. : )

    Toni – You are very sweet, as sweet as the jam I used. Thank you. A summer tea party sounds just lovely; I can imagine you under that garden glade of yours. These little treats would fit right in w/out a lot of fiddly work for you.

    Lisa – Thank you!

    Welcome, Joyce! So glad the red beans worked for you. Thanks so much for the kudos. I hope you enjoy these little sweets. Please let me know how they turn out for you. : }

    Hilda! Hello! So good to see you. Thanks for your kind words!

    Thank you, Jessica!

    Welcome, Chocolate Cup! Thanks very much for the compliments and your visit.

    Kim – Welcome! Thanks very much.

    Cynthia - : D Thanks!

    Vaishali – Thank you. They are that: short and sweet.

    Hi, Dragon! Thank you!

    Christina – Thank you. So good to see you.

    Mansi – Thank you. I've not participated in SHF for some time. Enjoy your hosting!

  25. How cool is this! I was congratulating myself for managing to self-translate - until I got to your translations. I had missed the egg and had thought it was supposed to go into an eleven inch deep container. As if...

    Does the recipe book also have a pastry recipe for the coffyns? (I tried searching but got completely stymied - I thought I might be on to something when I saw the "Payn puff" on 90r but then I couldn't understand it...)


  26. These are very very cute. Great pics!

  27. Susan I don't know what to say..but just that I am so much in love with your picture!...those cute little ones look awesome..and what a lovely post..enjoyed reading it...thanks!

  28. These do look a treat!! Oh I have to try them sometime soon, I have made several batches of strawberry jam that would be perfect for it!!


  29. These look absolutely delicious! Maids of Honour are still on my to-bake list. You're right--I do love antiquarian recipes; thanks for the reading recommendations!