These easy mini Treacle Tarts have a lovely buttery flavor with a hint of citrus and a texture similar to Pecan Pie. Harry Potter loved these delightful British dessert tarts, and so will you!
Why this recipe works
- The flavor is sweet and citrusy, with lovely golden undertones
- These cute little tarts are great for portion control
- You can double the recipe for a full-sized tart
I'm in the doldrums of Droughtlander (that is, the time between the last and next season of Outlander, the show that started me on this journey).
Seriously, if you're a fan of the books and/or movies, and you want to listen to a humorous and thoughtful chapter by chapter discussion of said universe, give this podcast a listen. You'll be engaged and entertained from the first show!
Anyway, it won’t surprise you to hear that my rediscovered interest in Harry Potter would inevitably turn to food and drink.
But when you're talking sweet treats, what better place to start than Harry's favorite dessert, Treacle Tarts!
What you need
Treacle Tarts are a quintessential British dessert. The first mention of them came from the late 19th Century cookbooks of Mary Jewry, and they've gained a huge following since. If you're unfamiliar with treacle (aka golden syrup, or light treacle) in this instance), its description is in the Pro Tip below.
There are many Treacle Tart recipes available. These recipes are for a tart made of a shortcrust pastry shell with a thick filling of golden syrup, breadcrumbs, and lemon juice or zest.
The differences between many recipes center on (1) whether or not heavy cream, butter, and egg is included in the filling, and (2) whether the tart is topped with a lattice crust.
How to make mini tarts
It's all about portion control, people. Besides, they're really cute!
Step 1: Make the tart shells
Roll out the shortcrust pastry dough to a large circle 13-inches in diameter. Cut out four rounds using a 6-inch round cookie cutter (the same one I used for my Checkerboard Cake) to cut out pastry dough to line the tart pans (photo 1). If that's not handy, tracing a 6-inch plate will work as well.
Step 2: Blind bake the tart shells
Transfer the dough to four 4-inch mini tart pans with removable bottoms. Trim the excess dough. Trim the excess dough, then freeze the tart shells for 20 minutes.
To blind bake crust (that is, bake it before filling it), the pie or tart pan is usually lined with parchment paper and filled with beans or rice. These help to hold the shell's shape.
Instead, freeze the tart shells for 20 minutes, then prick the bottom of each with a fork. Wrap each pan tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil, pressing snugly up against the sides of the pan (photo 2). This is the same method used for making Butterscotch Pie for Two that keeps the dough from slumping and shrinking when it's baked.
Place the tart pans on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper (to catch drips later on). Bake the tart shells at 375˚F until the crust is just set, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the shells are light brown, about 5 minutes more (photo 3).
Step 3: Make the filling
While the tart shells are in the oven, you can make the filling. While the tart shells are baking, heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s warm and loose. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, heavy cream, egg, butter, zest, and salt (photo 4).
Step 4: Bake the tarts
Remove the tart shells from the oven. Pour the filling into each tart shells about ¾ full. Bake until the filling is just set, about 15 to 20 minutes (photo 5). Cover the tarts with foil if the crusts are getting too brown.
Remove the pan from oven, and transfer tarts to wire rack to cool.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
Light treacle is a golden syrup, similar to honey in texture, though it has a more buttery caramel flavor because it's made from cane sugar. Dark treacle is most similar to molasses.
Treacle is a syrupy by-product of refining cane sugar. We in the US don't have an equivalent for light treacle, so there aren't really recipes for that here. We do frequently use molasses in treats like gingerbread, molasses cookies, and Shoofly Pie.
Many well-stocked grocery chains have golden syrup in the British section of their international foods aisle. You can also find it online.
Pro Tip: Defining treacle
What is treacle? It's not too common in the US, so a definition is in order.
Treacle is a British staple, and comes in two forms, light treacle (like Lyle's Golden Syrup), and black treacle (like Lyle's Black Treacle, or what we in the US would call molasses). The word treacle can indicate either the light or dark varieties.
Many recipes for Treacle Tarts state treacle in the ingredients list without defining which one to use. Or worse, saying you could use either one. However, there are major differences in flavor between the two, so it's important to choose wisely.
No wonder Harry Potter loved them
Treacle Tarts remind me of the aforementioned Brown Sugar Pie although less caramelly and more buttery from the golden syrup. There's also a lovely citrus note underneath that keeps the sweetness from being too cloying.
In other words, Treacle Tarts are yummy! No wonder they were Harry Potter's favorite dessert at Hogwarts.
Served with lightly sweetened whipped cream (or clotted cream, or even vanilla ice cream), Treacle Tarts will surprise and delight you. And the mini size is perfect for sharing with a special someone (or maybe not...I won't judge!).
If you'd rather make one full-sized tart, just double the recipe and use a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Increase the shortcrust blind baking to a total of 30 minutes, and bake the filling for 30 minutes or until set.
And if you want something a little more grown up to serve with them, Boozy Butterbeer is a fun cocktail, with variations for frozen, hot, and even a Butterbeer mocktail.
Oh, and what else can you make with that Lyle's Golden Syrup? Make Sticky Toffee Pudding, another wonderful British dessert. Want another example of a classic British tart? Try my Mini British Bakewell Tarts.
I encourage you to try these British desserts, especially those from the world of Harry Potter. I bet Harry would approve!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
There are many ways to enjoy a smaller version of a treat if you're looking for portion control. Here are some ideas that have been scaled down for small servings, and I have many more. Here are some ideas to get you started:
I hope you like this recipe! Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know! Or, if you made the recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and rating. Thanks!
Easy Mini Treacle Tarts
For the tart shells
- ½ recipe basic shortcrust pastry, see Recipe Notes
For the filling
- ½ cup golden syrup
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, fresh, see Recipe Notes
- 1½ tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ large egg, beaten, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- whipped cream, lightly sweetened, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 °F.
- Prepare the tart shells: Roll the shortcrust pastry dough into a large circle about 13-inches in diameter. Cut out four rounds with a 6-inch round cookie cutter (or trace the bottom of a small plate). Transfer the dough to four 4-inch mini tart pans with removable bottoms. Trim the excess dough, then freeze the tart shells for 20 minutes.
- Remove the tart shells from the freezer and prick the bottom of each with a fork. Wrap each pan tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil, pressing snugly up against the sides of the pan.
- Place the tart pans on a half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper (to catch drips later on). Blind bake the tart shells until the crust is just set, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the shells are light brown, about 5 minutes more.
- Make the filling: While the tart shells are baking, heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it’s warm and loose. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bread crumbs, heavy cream, egg, butter, zest, and salt.
- Remove the tart shells from the oven. Pour the filling into each tart shells about ¾ full.
- Bake until the filling is just set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover the tarts with foil if the crusts are getting too brown.
- Remove the pan from oven, and transfer tarts to wire rack to cool.
- Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream. One 4-inch tart can serve 1 to 2 people.
- Storage instructions: The cooled tarts freeze well in a airtight plastic bag. To serve, defrost overnight in the refrigerator to thaw.