Saturday, September 5, 2009

"Somehow it reminded him simultaneously of...

...treacle tart, the woody smell of a broomstick handle, and something flowery he thought he might have smelled at the Burrow." This is what Harry Potter smells in the love potion Amortentia: treacle, Quidditch, and Ginny. And I don't know about my fellow North Americans, but I had no idea was treacle tart was before last week.

Last night, some friends and Davis and I got together for a Harry Potter themed party. We brought all sorts of dishes explicitly mentioned in the books as well traditional British dishes, and played Harry Potter Scene It. My contribution was treacle tart, mentioned throughout the series as Harry's favourite dessert, and pumpkin juice, which is frequently drunk at Hogwarts. I bought a cookbook from Amazon called A Wizard In The Kitchen which has all sorts of recipes inspired by Harry Potter. I was a bit turned off by the book at first because most of it is geared toward children (except the cocktail section at the back containing the Green Serpent - creme de menthe and creme de cacao) but in the end I was glad for the simplicity of the recipes.

Treacle tart actually turned out to be a pretty easy recipe. It required:
- a 9 inch pie crust
- 1 1/2 cups treacle
- 1 1/2 cups soft breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 egg lightly beaten

Treacle, I have discovered, is a by-product of sugar production in the UK. It's like molasses, but stickier and thicker and lighter in colour. It's so sugary that you can hear it crackle when you stir it. I think they sell some at our local British imports store (where they also have cool chocolate bars and tea) but it's quite pricey. A friend of mine recently travelled to the UK and brought back a tin of treacle for me!

Preparing the filling is really easy: you just plop all the ingredients in a bowl and stir them together. The soft breadcrumbs can be made by putting crustless, sliced white bread in a food processor. I think mine took 5-6 pieces to give about a cup and a half.

The filling gets dumped into the pie crust... which I apologize for. I have never made pie crust from scratch, and though I would have liked to for the treacle, please see my post below as to why my life is currently insane.

The pie gets baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The filling should be firm and have darkened somewhat in the oven. I think I might have left mine in a skosh too long - there was a nice crust over top but it was a bit too thick and sticky to chew. If I make this again, I'll probably aim for 35-40 minutes. After taking it out of the oven, the pie should cool for about an hour.

I forgot to take a picture of the final presentation of the pie, but I served it with fresh whipped cream, raspberries, and mint leaves. It was pretty good - it kind of had the texture of a sugar pie or maybe like the filling of a butter tart, but a with a little more substance because of the bread crumbs. It was very, incredibly, decidedly sweet - I cut the pie into six pieces, but I think next time I'll cut it into 8 to make the pieces smaller, since I couldn't finish my piece. Overall though, I think it was a success.

Between dinner and dessert we had some pumpkin juice, which is made by spooning canned pumpkin into a container of apple juice, shaking it up, and straining the juice into a punch bowl or other type of server to remove any floaty pumpkin bits. Ours was shaken pretty well so we didn't have to strain it (well, also the cheesecloth I was holding over the mouth of the jug slipped and all the juice splashed into the bowl anyway) and the end result was actually pretty good! It wasn't extremely strongly pumpkin flavoured, but it did remind me of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

Other courses of dinner included delicate little cucumber and cilantro sandwiches with a tasty yogurt pepper spread for appys, a beef roast with veggies and gravy and incredible Yorkshire pudding for the main course along with Pimm's and lemonade, and butter beer served with the treacle tart for dessert.

I came in second at Harry Potter Scene It. I blame the Pimm's... and the butterscotch schapps in the butter beer... and the glass and a half of red wine... and the prosecco... but mostly the treacle tart.


  1. I have to admit, I love the Harry Potter books! And a Potter-themed party? Total awesomeness! Hand me some of that treacle tart!


  2. I've always wondered what treacle is!!?! How cool. If I went to a Harry Potter party, I'd definitely dress up as my favorite character: Severus Snape! He's the bomb. :-D


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