Scottish tablet is an extremely sugary candy with a coarse texture, not as hard as hard candy, but not as soft as fudge. It is brittle, delicious and seriously addicting. Embedded in Scottish culture since the early 18th century, this candy was originally made with sugar and cream, but more modern recipes, like ours, add butter and condensed milk.
Many forms of tablet exist all over the world: candies made out of milk and sugar ubiquitous in many cultures. Canadians, Hispanics, French, and Brazilians, amongst others, have forms of cooked dairy sweets, but unlike Scottish tablet, they all tend to be softer in texture.
They're extremely easy to make, so everyone with a sweet tooth needs to watch out for this classic recipe!
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- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces butter (chopped into pieces)
- 4 pounds sugar (superfine or caster)
- 1 pound condensed milk
- Optional: flavorings as desired*
Butter a 12-by-4-inch or 7-inch square tin.
In a large, deep pan saucepan (4-pint minimum capacity but preferably larger), heat up the milk on low heat. Add the butter, and stir until melted and all is well combined.
Add the sugar and stir until all of it has dissolved. Raise the heat to high and bring the sugar to a hard boil for 5 minutes, stirring all the time to prevent the sugar from sticking to the edges of the pan and/or burning. If you have a candy thermometer bring the temperature to 250 F (also known as hard-ball stage in candy and toffee making).
Once it's reached 250 F, carefully add the condensed milk. Because the sugar is at a high temperature it may splatter and burn you. Stir well. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. The mixture will bubble and resemble a moon crater. Keep cooking; the mixture will also start to slightly darken.
Once the mixture has visibly thickened, remove the pan from the stove, place on a kitchen towel to add stability and beat the mixture vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes. Use an electric mixer if available, as doing it by hand is likely tiring due to the thickness of the mixture.
At this point, add any optional flavorings (see recipe variations below).
Pour the mixture into the greased pan.
When the tablet is cool but still soft, cut into 1-inch squares. If you'd prefer, put the pan in the freezer to make sure it is completely cold.
Wrap in greaseproof paper and store in an airtight tin.
Watch Out, It Burns!
As with any candy-making process, be mindful of your safety and the safety of others when making Scottish tablet:
- This recipe reaches very high temperatures – no kids and no pets around, for your safety and theirs.
- For this recipe, you will need a heavy-based, minimum 8-cup capacity saucepan. But use anything larger if you have it. Since the Scottish tablet reaches a rolling boil, sometimes the mixture can swell up quickly and boil over if the heat is a fraction too high. A larger pan will make it safer.
- Have a dry kitchen towel with you at all times. Do not touch spilled candy with bare hands, use your towel. Remember that the steam burns as bad and sometimes worse than the candy itself.
- Use the back burners of your stove, a wooden spatula for mixing, and thick heat-resistant gloves to manipulate the pot.
- No socks in the kitchen, always wear shoes to avoid accidents while handling hot mixtures.
- Tablet can be flavored as desired by simply adding a few drops of your favorite flavor like peppermint, whiskey, vanilla, cinnamon, or citrus.