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A Tasty Treacle Tart

A classic English dessert casts a spell worthy of a boy wizard.

After reading the Harry Potter books and seeing some of the movies, I remember countless references to treacle tarts as a favorite food served at Hogwarts school.

When I noticed a treacle tart recipe in The Whole Beast, by Fergus Henderson (Ecco, $19.95), I knew we had to try it. Later, a colleague said, "Sure, it's a food in Agatha Christie's books and Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)." Despite my familiarity with these books, I must say it was Harry Potter's treacle tart that left an impression on me.

Treacle tart is a dessert made with treacle, or dark syrup. A British ingredient called Lyle's Golden Syrup is available at specialty stores. Lyle's Golden Syrup has a unique taste and is used in a wide range of recipes from flapjacks to sponge puddings and sweet-and-sour dishes. It is a cane-sugar syrup used in place of liquid sweeteners such as honey, corn syrup and molasses. It makes an excellent glaze, topping, spread or substitute.

The first reference to treacle tart in the Harry Potter books is in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when the students attend their first banquet at Hogwarts:

"A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam dough-nuts, trifle, strawberries, Jell-O, rice pudding ... ," author J.K. Rowling writes.

In Book 5 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the reader is told that Harry ate "a large plateful of his favorite treacle tart."

Serve treacle tart with whipped cream. It's a rich and sweet dessert best cut into small slices with a flavor that has a hint of lemon.

This treacle tart recipe comes from RecipeZaar.com.

Treacle Tart

Ingredients:

Pastry

1 1/4 cup of flour
1 pinch salt
1/4 lb. butter, chilled
2 Tbsp. superfine sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. ice water

Filling

1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup golden syrup
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1. Prepare the pastry as for pie crust and chill for 30 minutes.

2. Roll out for a 9-inch tart pan. Reserve the scraps. Trim the edges and retain the scraps.

3. Preheat oven to 400.

4. Mix the oats, zest and ginger, and sprinkle half in the pastry. Pour on the syrup and lemon juice and sprinkle rest of oat mixture on top.

5. Roll out any remaining pastry and cut strips to lay a trellis over the tart if desired.

6. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot or cold, and top with whipped cream.

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