What Is Black Treacle?

B. Turner

Black treacle is a thick, sticky syrup that is widely used throughout the United Kingdom (UK). This product shares many properties with molasses, but is generally much thicker with a flavor that's slightly less sweet than that of molasses syrup. Black treacle is derived from cane sugar, and sold in jars or bottles at grocers throughout the UK. It can also be found at some specialty shops and gourmet grocers in other parts of the world, particularly those with large concentrations of British citizens. This product, which is also referred to as blackstrap to help distinguish it from other kinds of treacle, is included in many traditional British recipes, including those for treacle tart, treacle pudding and other dishes.

Black treacle.
Black treacle.

The process of manufacturing the treacle begins when cane or beet sugar is put through a refinement process. In addition to granulated sugar, this process produces molasses and a series of by-products. When the molasses is boiled, it is converted into light treacle. With further boiling, it can then be transformed into black treacle.

Black treacle may be used in chili.
Black treacle may be used in chili.

Buyers can choose from two basic varieties of treacle. The first is light treacle, which features a lighter, golden color than black treacle. It is also less bitter, and has a slightly buttery taste. Black treacle, on the other hand, is very dark in color and can seem bitter when compared to light treacle or molasses. It is also quite thick, and can be difficult to pour, particularly when it is relatively cold.

This product is used in a variety of traditional recipes, particularly desserts. Treacle pudding, pie and tarts are popular in the UK and other parts of Europe. This type of treacle lends a sweetness to these dishes, but also adds a bitter flavor, along with a bit of caramel. In addition to its use in sweet recipes, this product can also be used in savory dishes like chili to complement the spicy flavor. It may also be used as a substitute for honey, syrup or molasses in many cooking applications.

While it is possible to find black treacle in stores outside of the UK, buyers are most likely to find this product in gourmet or specialty shops rather than standard grocery stores. In the United States, cooks may be forced to substitute more readily available products like molasses when preparing a dish that calls for treacle. Another option is to use blackstrap molasses, which tends to be very bitter, and not nearly as sweet as treacle.

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