Friday, January 31, 2014

Caramel Treacle Tart

"Powerful infatuations can be induced by the skillful potioneer,
but never yet has anyone managed to create
the truly unbreakable,
attachment that alone can be called


- Hector Dagworth-Granger on love potions (Harry Potter)

I was introduced to Harry Potter long after it was popular, and, as a reader, am slightly ashamed to say that I skipped right past the books to watch the movies.  I will read the books, though, hopefully within the next year.

During the students' potions class, the instructor describes Amortentia as the most powerful love potion in existence.  The aroma of the potion is different to everyone, smelling of the things that attract them.  For Hermione Granger, those objects are freshly cut grass, new parchment and spearmint toothpaste, and although the movie makes no mention of this, also Ron Weasley's hair.

I can relate.  Certain smells remind me of friends I haven't seen in years, or places I've lived, pets I've loved and lost.  And depending on the memory they evoke, they can make me feel utterly uncomfortable or completely wonderful.

"Amortentia doesn't create actual love, of course.
That's impossible.
But it does cause a powerful infatuation or obsession.
For that reason, it is probably the most dangerous potion in this room."

- Horace Slughorn, during potion class (Harry Potter)

For Harry Potter, treacle tart is one of the aromas he smells when presented with the potion, and I've been curious about the dessert ever since I heard its name.

Treacle tart is an English dessert, a custard baked in a traditional shortbread crust.  The custard filling is typically made from little more than golden syrup and molasses (treacle), eggs, bread crumbs and lemon juice, but I decided to make mine quite a bit differently by using a combination of homemade salted caramel sauce, molasses and light corn syrup, almond meal instead of bread crumbs, and with vanilla, nutmeg and ginger for more flavor.  The lemon juice and zest added such a lovely brightness to the custard that's rich with eggs, cream and butter.

I let the tart cool for a few hours before cutting into it while it was still slightly warm, and it looked a little bit like a pumpkin pie, although of course tasting nothing like one.

What scents attract you?  When I was little, it was the smell inside my mom's closet - sometimes I'd just stand in there and inhale the scent of her mommy-ness that lingered on her clothes and shoes and all would feel right in the world.

These days, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, butter melting on hot toast, Jamie's neck when he hugs me close and the scent of cakes and bread baking are my favorites.

This coming Valentine's Day, I hope you don't need any magical love potions other than the aroma of your favorite things and something sweet baking for dessert after a romantic dinner...

Caramel Treacle Tart

Shortbread Crust:
·         1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
·         ¼ cup light brown sugar
·         1 teaspoon coarse salt
·         10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
·         1 egg yolk

·         ½ cup caramel sauce
·         ¼ cup molasses
·         ¼ cup light corn syrup or golden syrup
·         ½ cup almond flour/meal or white bread crumbs
·         ¼ cup cream
·         ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
·         3 eggs
·         zest and juice of 1 small lemon
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         ¼ teaspoon ginger

Prepare and Bake the Crust:
In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt.  With the processor running, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, just until moistened.  Add the yolk and pulse a few times to incorporate.  The mixture should resemble moist cornmeal.

Spray a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick spray.  Pile the dough crumbs into the pan, and spread out to the edge.  Firmly press down against the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and place the foil, greased side down, against the frozen crust, fitting it closely to the crust.  Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.  Carefully lift the foil and beans out of the crust and set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350.

While you are pre-baking the crust, whisk together all the filling ingredients until smooth.  Pour the filling into the hot crust.  Bake the tart at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the filling is set.

Let cool for several hours, then serve warm with freshly whipped cream, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Yields 10-12 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen


  1. Oh I just loved reading this post. The pictures are gorgeous. I'll have to make this for my daughter in law who is a huge Harry Potter fan.


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