With Prince George‘s second birthday on Wednesday, there are bound to be lots of sweets in the royal household this week—and we’re willing to bet one of them will be these mini treacle tarts.
Carolyn Robb—a chef who cooked for the royal family for 11 years—says the traditional British dessert was a favorite of Prince Harry and Prince William‘s when they were younger.
“It’s usually made as an 8-inch tart—but when Prince Harry was little, he loved treacle tarts so I used to make those little tiny ones for him,” Robb tells PEOPLE.
The British chef—who recently released her cookbook, The Royal Touch—recalls the young royals would have to get permission from Princess Diana before gobbling them down.
“Once, when [Harry] came into the kitchen to get one, I asked him to check with The Princess of Wales if he could have one,” she says. “He re-appeared moments later with a slip of paper in his hand. It read, ‘Mummy says it’s ok!’ in Princess Diana’s handwriting.”
“I have always treasured this wonderful little note!” she adds.
The tiny treats call for golden syrup, a traditional British ingredient, but can be substituted for maple syrup.
“It is an acquired taste as they are quite sweet,” she says. “But they’re lovely and you can add in some nuts or grated fresh apple as well, if you like.”
Carolyn Robb’s Treacle Tarts
Makes: 20 tarts
1 ¼ cups golden or maple syrup
3 cups fresh white breadcrumb
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. double cream
2 ½ (14 oz.) boxes store-bought pastry dough
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Warm the syrup in a small heavy-based saucepan; do not let it boil. Remove from the heat, add the breadcrumbs and lemon zest. Leave it to sit so that the crumbs absorb the syrup and swell.
3. Roll the pastry dough out on a lightly-floured surface to a 1⁄8-inch thickness. Cut out circles to line tartlet molds or a muffin pan and press the pastry down well into each mold. Chill for 15 minutes.
4. Stir in lemon juice and cream to syrup and breadcrumb mixture. Place a little filling in each tartlet.
5. Decorate the top of each tart with small pastry shapes or a lattice of pastry strips with the extra pastry dough.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, brushing top of tartlet with melted butter after 15 minutes. Cool in the molds for 10 minutes on a wire rack lined baking pan before removing. Serve warm with whipped cream, custard or ice cream.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes
—Ana Calderone, @anacalderone