Harry Potter recipe review: Treacle tart

Treacl-ing myself to Harry’s favorite dessert


Graphic illustration by Amy Liu; photo used with permission of Mia Liu

With a swish of my wand, I levitate my treacle tart into the Great Hall of Hogwarts. Remember, it’s “LeviOsa,” not “LeviosA.”

Amy Liu, Editor-in-Chief

Harry Potter loves treacle tart so much that he smells it in Amortentia, a powerful love potion in the wizarding world that is some next-level fondness for a seemingly simple dessert. As “Harry Potter” is my favorite series to this day, it was only right that I tried making his personal favorite. 

Contrary to many of the other magical sweets in the series, treacle tart is a traditional English dessert. The tart is made predominantly of shortcrust pastry and golden syrup, also known as light-treacle. Other ingredients found in the filling include bread crumbs and lemon juice. 

With a snap of his fingers, Dobby transforms the ingredients into Harry’s favorite treacle tart. (Graphic illustration by Amy Liu)

When searching for a recipe to use, I was shocked at the varying levels of difficulty each recipe brought to the table. On top of it being my first time baking a tart, I never would have thought that baking terminology in Britain would be different to that in America. For example, “double cream” in Britain is “heavy cream” in America, and Britain uses grams, while the U.S. uses cups and ounces. After much head-scratching, I finally decided to use Cupcake Jemma’s treacle tart recipe, with my own modifications.

Another difficulty I ran into was that golden syrup, a syrup particular to treacle tart, was rare and expensive. Multiple recipes stated that it would be best not to replace golden syrup with any other kind of syrup. I chose to make my own golden syrup to avoid any extra hassle buying the product and hoped that this homemade version would be as authentic as its legendary golden flavor.  

I started by gathering all the ingredients in the recipe. Due to my own baking background, I already owned many of the ingredients or could make substitutions to the recipe. The only ingredients I needed to purchase were bread, heavy cream and lemons. After placing a few online orders, I was good to go. 

First, because I decided against buying store-made shortcrust pastry, I made my own by combining thinly-pressed butter slices with my dry ingredient mix, composed of flour, confectioner’s sugar and salt. To get a stick of butter into thin slices, I banged a rolling pin on it until it adopted the thickness I wanted. After I added a splash of ice-cold water and kneaded my mixture, my shortcrust pastry was ready to be chilled overnight. 

With my pastry dough in the refrigerator, I began to make my second homemade ingredient: the special golden syrup. I substituted brown sugar for regular white sugar because the recipe recommended the former for a deeper flavor. After boiling water and brown sugar, I added two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. I lowered the heat and let the liquid simmer for an hour before removing it from the stove and storing it in a container. After cooling for another hour, the liquid obtained the consistency of a sticky syrup. 

The next day, I extracted my shortcrust pastry from the refrigerator. Though I had difficulty rolling it out because of the cold temperature and stiff texture, it became workable after letting it sit at room temperature for half an hour. While I pre-baked the dough in the pie pan, I began making my treacle filling. I whisked together heavy cream, lemon juice, butter, an egg and the golden syrup I had made the previous day over the stove, creating a thick filling. 

Then, it was time to assemble all the components together! Using a food processor, I shredded slices of bread into bread crumbs that I spread out on the pie pan. I poured the treacle filling on top of the bread crumbs, making sure to leave no dry areas. Finally, I excitedly put the tart into the oven. 

When tasting my finished product, I was disheartened by how overly sweet it was. Unlike a typical pie, my treacle tart fell apart after I took a slice. Instead of having a uniform taste, my treacle tart tasted like a gooey mixture of sugar and crumbs. 

Overall, my version of the treacle tart did not live up to the expectations given by the series. The recipe was challenging and time-consuming if you plan on making your own, I recommend either buying all of the ingredients, especially the shortcrust pastry and golden syrup, or just acquiring the complete tart from your local bakery. Though I will probably not attempt this five-hour recipe again, I have gained a newfound appreciation for house-elves for constantly making this dessert for Harry, and I do not doubt that their treacle tarts taste heavenly. 

So, would I smell this in my love potion? Definitely not. But if Harry loves it that much, then maybe you will, too.