Christmas just isn’t Christmas in my family without Tablet. What’s Tablet I hear you ask? No, it’s not some strange medication. Tablet is a Scottish confection that has a long history that was first documented in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie in the 18th Century. While traditionally it was made with sugar and cream, the modern version uses condensed milk and sugar, which is what my family recipe is based on.
I have fond memories of my Grandmother making Tablet every Christmas. My Grandmothers recipe was passed onto her two daughters, my Mum and my Aunt, and then, when I moved out of home it was passed onto me.
So what does it taste like? It’s somewhat like a caramel sauce turned into fudge. And when it’s cooking it smells absolutely divine…and oh so Christmassy to me.
If you want to try your hand at making Tablet be warned you may get a sore arm from stirring, because it really does need careful supervision to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. I have fond memories of stirring Tablet as a child, and it almost seemed magical to me back then watching it slowly turn from a light cream colour to a golden caramel.
For my version of Tablet I decided to add Vanilla Bean, to spice things up a little bit. When you’ve made your Vanilla Tablet wrap it up in cellophane and give it as a gift or serve it in tiny squares along with coffee at the end of your Christmas meal, in place of a dessert.
Do you have any family food traditions where it just wouldn’t be Christmas if you didn’t have them?
Vanilla Tablet (Scottish Fudge with Vanilla)
- 400 ml of Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1 pound of sugar
- 2 oz of butter
- 1/4 cup of water
- seeds of 2 small vanilla beans scraped, or 1 large
- Grease a medium sized non stick rectangular cake tin or line with baking paper.
- Add the sugar, water, vanilla seeds, butter and the condensed milk to a large non stick pan and turn the heat on medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to stir. I find using a whisk helps. As the mixture cooks it will start to darken in colour. You want a rich caramel colour and you want the mixture to begin to thicken. As the mixture starts to darken and thicken (around 20 minutes) take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and place onto a plate and leave it a for a few minutes. Use a knife and spread the mixture across the plate. What you want to see is grooves from the knife in the mixture. Also taste it, it should have a slight sugared texture. When it's at this point it's ready to remove from the heat. If the mixture is chewy, it's not there yet, and keep cooking.
- When the mixture is ready pour it into the prepared cake tin. You will need to do this very quickly because as soon as you remove it from the heat it will start to set. Try to get as much of the mix out of the pot and into the pan by scraping the pot. Roll the pan from side to side to spread the mix evenly in the pan. Set aside to cool. Once the mixture is set cut into small squares.
If you have left the mixture to set for a few hours and it still hasn't set, then it needs further cooking. Don't worry though, you don't need to throw it out and start again, simply place the mixture back into a saucepan, let it melt, and continue cooking. If you notice flecks don't worry, reduce the heat and make sure you stir more. However, if you see black streaks, unfortunately it's burnt.