How To Make Treacle Tarts, Snow Candy, & 9 Other Holiday Treats From Your Fave Books

by Charlotte Ahlin
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You can talk about love and family and goodwill towards men all you like, but we all know that at the end of the day, the holidays are about one thing: food. OK, there might be a little more to it than that, but food is a huge part of how we celebrate while also insulating ourselves from the winter chill. It's no accident that every great book about the holidays includes at least one mouthwatering description of holiday treats. So, if you're thinking of throwing a literary soiree this December, or if you've just always wanted to try pickled limes, here are a few delicious holiday treats from your favorite books.

The ham or the turkey or the soy-based turkey substitute might steal the show at your holiday meal, but the snacks you eat on the side are just as important to creating that cozy, wintry vibe. And literature is full of holiday treats. From the Christmas feasts at Hogwarts to the nut-based snack food of the Redwall mice, your favorite books are a great place to go for holiday menu inspiration. These recipes will be sure to wow both readers and non-readers alike, so check out some delectable holiday foods from literature:

Treacle Tart from 'Harry Potter'

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The Wizarding World is full of scrumptious treats, from pumpkin pasties to cauldron cakes to cockroach clusters. But Harry's favorite dish, for the holidays and all other times of the year, is Hogwarts' treacle tart. Lucky for you, even Muggles can make this one at home: here's a traditional treacle tart recipe inspired by everyone's favorite boy wizard, and here's a mini-treacle tart variation, if you want some tiny treacle treats for your Yule Ball this year.

A moment later the desserts appeared. Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you can think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding... As Harry helped himself to a treacle tart, the talk turned to their families.

Snow Candy from 'Little House on the Prairie'

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Christmas always seemed so magical in Little House on the Prairie, even though the family lived in the middle of nowhere and ate snow. You don't have to live on the prairie to make your own snow candy with this recipe, though (and yes, you can substitute shaved ice for snow if you live in warmer climes).

Ma was busy all day long, cooking good things for Christmas… One morning she boiled molasses and sugar together until they made a thick syrup, and Pa brought in two pans of clean, white snow from outdoors. Laura and Mary each had a pan, and Pa and Ma showed them how to pour the dark syrup in little streams on to the snow. They made circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things, and these hardened at once and were candy.

Turkish Delight from 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'

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The White Witch of Narnia tempts little Edmund with boxes of Turkish Delight, which is a jelly-like candy from (you guessed it) Turkey. Sure, the White Witch turns out to be a little bit evil, but that doesn't make Turkish Delight any less tasty. You can make this holiday treat at home with just a little sugar, gelatin, and rose water.

“It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating,” said the Queen presently. “What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.

Triple Gingerbread from 'Mary Poppins'

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Normal gingerbread is all well and good. But Mary Poppins' gingerbread sparkles. It glows. It's full of stars. The full effect of Mary's gingerbread is a tad hard to recreate in real life, but this recipe will get you pretty darn close: dark gingerbread that's been dusted with shimmering gold.

And in a case under the glass were rows and rows of dark, dry gingerbread, each slab so studded with gilt stars that the shop itself seemed to be faintly lit by them.

Pickled Limes from 'Little Women'

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Little Women is another quintessential holiday book. And the most sought after treat in Little Women is pickled limes, hands down. That... might not sound like a traditional holiday snack, but back in the day these sour limes were a staple of kids' sweets. Get started making these limes now, because they need to chill for a month before their ready to eat.

"Why, you see, the girls are always buying them, and unless you want to be thought mean, you must do it too. It's nothing but limes now, for everyone is sucking them in their desks in school time, and trading them off for pencils, bead rings, paper dolls, or something else, at recess. If one girl likes another, she gives her a lime. If she's mad with her, she eats one before her face, and doesn't offer even a suck. They treat by turns, and I've had ever so many but haven't returned them, and I ought for they are debts of honor, you know."

Candied Chestnuts from 'Redwall'

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Forget about roasted chestnuts. It's all about candied chestnuts. At least, if you're a sword-wielding mouse who lives at Redwall, then you'd probably prefer to celebrate the holidays with candied chestnuts and daring tales of the mouse heroes of old.

"You name them, we’ve got them. Even candied chestnuts and acorn crunch."

Hot Cocoa from 'The Polar Express'

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It's hardly winter without hot chocolate. And the hot chocolate from The Polar Express is definitely up there when it comes to the best literary descriptions of the warm, rich beverage. Make your own extra creamy cocoa with this recipe, and top with marshmallow fluff.

We drank hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars.

Latkes from 'The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming'

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The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: a Christmas Story is already a new holiday classic for fans of Christmas, Hanukkah, and potato pancakes in general. Make your very own emotionally distressed latke, and top with applesauce and sour cream for a sweet and savory snack.

It is very frustrating not to be understood in this world. If you say one thing and keep being told that you mean something else, it can make you want to scream. But somewhere in the world there is a place for all of us, whether you are an electric form of decoration, peppermint-scented sweet, a source of timber, or a potato pancake.

Pepparkakor from 'Pippi Longstocking'

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If you've never had Swedish holiday cooking before, you are missing out, my friend. Bake some traditional pepparkakor cookies for your holiday smörgåsbord, just like the one and only Pippi Longstocking (but... maybe don't make your cookies on the floor).

That morning Pippi was busy making pepparkakor – a kind of Swedish cookie. She had made an enormous amount of dough and rolled it out on the kitchen floor. "Because," said Pippi to her little monkey, "what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make at least five hundred cookies?" And there she lay on the floor, cutting out cookie hearts for dear life.

Christmas Pudding from 'A Christmas Carol'

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Is it truly the holiday season if you don't light your dessert on fire? For the more ambitious chefs out there, you can go for the ultimate literary treat and try your hand at the Christmas pudding from A Christmas Carol. The actual pudding in question is not like an American pudding so much as a holiday fruitcake, and yes... you are supposed to soak it in alcohol and then set it ablaze.

That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered: flushed, but smiling proudly: with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top. Oh, a wonderful pudding!

Sugar Plums from 'The Night Before Christmas'

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Sugar plums feature in a lot of holiday literature, which begs the question... what is a sugar plum? Wonder no more with this recipe for traditional Victorian sugar plums, as seen in The Night Before Christmas.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads...