Tablet: a deliciously sticky mess
Tablet is a Scottish sweet. In keeping with their national tradition, you can feel it clogging your arteries and eat at your teeth but man does it taste good!
The last time I was in Scotland I had dinner out in Falkirk. I had hot chocolate and instead of the usual sugar cubes (who puts sugar in their hot chocolate? Seriously lads!) they gave me a square of tablet. Well fuck me sideways, I still haven’t crashed back down from that sugar high!
I asked my mate Darren (HI DARREN) to give me a recipe. Because Darren is Scottish (although he thinks he’s Irish – the big weirdo!) and because he’s ace in the kitchen. This is his recipe and it’s traditional. In most recent times it tends to be made with condensed milk. But not for our Darren. Because in his words: “They dinnae have condensed milk in 1740”.
So here goes! But first thing first, might as well listen to Scottish tunes while I’m at it. Biffy Clyro all the way! Sing it!!
2 lbs Sugar (NOT a kilo), 1pt Blue top full cream milk (DO NOT PUT ANY OTHER KIND OF MILK IN), a tbsp of some Golden Syrup, 1 vanilla pod or a few drops of essence.
Heat and stir continuously till all the sugar is dissolved, and it starts to boil. Turn down to the lowest setting and let it simmer for about an hour.
A white candy will form on it during the simmering. Keep stirring until this is dissolved back into the liquid. You need to stir every few minutes. Add some Vanilla Extract or Essence.
When it starts to go a darker brown, and bubble, test some in a cup with some cold water. If it turns to toffee, take it of the heat and beat for 10 – 15 minutes with hand mixer.
When it starts to really thicken, pour it into a tray which has been buttered to prevent it sticking.
It is an acquired art. It probably won’t be perfect the first couple of times. The secret is in the beating. Too long and the sugar will start to return, and it will be too hard.”
My experience of this recipe:
This is my first attempt and that Darren said I would more than likely mess it up. I’d promised myself that I’d prove him wrong but the mixture is now in the fridge and I suspect I’ve made sweet soup…. Let’s see!
Update: I did make sweet sweet soup. I binned it. I believe I went wrong by having the heat turned down too low and so it never set.
Decided to beat the iron while it was still hot and take another stab at it tonight.
I did better for sure. It simmered away for an hour. It turned a nice brownie colour. But I beat it for 15 min and it never thickened that much. So it’s in the fridge setting (or trying to) but I don’t think it’ll be quite there yet. If this doesn’t work out I’m persevering and trying again tomorrow….. TBC
I’m a firm believer that your music influences your mood and your mood influences your cooking. So Biffy Clyro might have been a tad “too angsty”. Change of tack and it’s Arcade Fire. Softly dancy.
Today, I discussed what was going wrong with Darren and how I may misreading the recipe. So here’s what I did different tonight.
When I first brought the sweet milk to the boil, I left it to boil for 3 minutes. This takes a lot of monitoring as you don’t want it to boil over. Beat it and remove it from the heat so that it goes back down into the pot. The following hour I had it on a decent simmer and beat it every minute or so to integrate the candy that forms on top. When the mixture was a good brown and after a good hour I poured it into a big bowl and let it cool for 3 minutes. I then beat it hard for 20 minutes. It’s finally thick and trying to set now. Fingers crossed as my arm might come off if I’ve to do it one more time!