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When I was picking recipes for my Downton tribute, I ran across this recipe for Treacle Tart on the Downton Abbey Cooks blog. I had first heard of this traditional English dessert about a year ago, when I read the Harry Potter series. Potter fans know Treacle Tart is Harry’s favorite Hogwart’s dish. I decided to make it.

And then I watched the first episode of season three and what happened? Head butler Mr. Carson, in the very first kitchen scene, tells cook Mrs. Patmore, “That treacle tart hit the spot.” I must be psychic!

Courtesy PBS

Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, and a maid prepare desserts in Downton’s kitchen.

In England, Treacle is made with golden syrup, which is essentially sugar cane or sugar beet juice. It looks a bit like honey. But if you’re not able to find it at your local grocer, you can do what I did and fake it.

Golden syrup

This is one of the easiest and most interesting desserts I’ve ever made. I served it to my mother, who says it reminds her of candy and mincemeat pie. I made my tarts in a mini-pie pan. It made four pies but there was too much syrup. However, I think if you made one large tart, you’d have just the right amount of filling.  Serve it slightly warm with a side of whip cream, ice cream or clotted cream.

Ingredients
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 6 tbsp. butter, cold and cut into small pieces
• 2 egg yolks
• ½ teaspoon vanilla
• 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
• 1 ½ cups golden syrup OR 1 cup corn syrup and ½ cup molasses
• 1 large lemon or orange, zested
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• ½ tsp. ground ginger
• 1 slice bread, toasted and ground finely into crumbs in blender

Instructions

Combine flour, salt and sugar in mixer. Work in butter until mixture resembles crumbs.

Add egg yolks, vanilla and water-but only add the water if you need it. The final dough should be smooth and mine was at that point without the water. It’s easier to add water than to add flour-so only add the water if you feel the dough won’t stick together in a ball.  When you get the dough to the right consistency, form a ball and wrap it in Saran wrap. Chill for at least half an hour.

The pastry rolled into a ball to be refrigerated.

The pastry rolled into a ball to be refrigerated.

When the pastry is chilled, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and unwrap the chilled pastry. Roll it out as thin as you can to fit whatever pan you are working with.

Pastry rolled out as thin as I could.

Pastry rolled out as thin as I could.

Work the dough into the crevices of the pan. Cut circles of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan and lay the parchment in the middle of the pastry. Sprinkle some dried pinto beans or grains of rice on the parchment.
Bake the pastry-10 minutes for mini-pie tins and 15 minutes for a full-size tart. Remove the parchment and beans or rice.

Mini-tarts with parchment paper and rice for baking

Mini-tarts with parchment paper and rice for baking

Heat the golden syrup or corn syrup and molasses with the lemon juice and orange or lemon zest in a saucepan until nearly boiling (medium-high heat). Add the ginger.

Heated corn syrup, molasses, lemon juice and zest

Heated corn syrup, molasses, lemon juice and zest

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs in the tart shells and then pour in the syrup.

The breadcrumbs in the tarts, pre-syrup.

The breadcrumbs in the tarts, pre-syrup.

The syrup is added!

The syrup is added!

Bake the mini-pie tarts for 10-15 minutes and the larger tart for 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Sweet, delicious treacle tarts.  No wonder Harry Potter loved them!

Sweet, delicious treacle tarts. No wonder Harry Potter loved them!

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