Jingle bells, jingle bells, la la la la la… Merry Christmas everyone!
The colours, lights, sparkle and shine, smiling faces and that feeling of well-being – I love festival times. And the last week-long celebration of the year is beautiful – the celebration of a birth and a beginning. This is the season for comfy snuggles, hot and gooey treats, glitter and drama, parties, conversations and resolutions to keep New Year resolutions.
And gifts – the ones under the Christmas tree or those exchanged when you visit/host friends and family.
Madame Editor shares the same sentiments but unfortunately, it was rather late in the day when she realised that with a packed schedule until Sunday night, she was facing the issue of “What do I gift my friends?” while Didi1 was looking for something to make “with a handful of ingredients”.
My answer to both these lovelies is the Scotland Tablet also called the Scottish Tablet and Butter Tablet.
I discovered this tooth-numbing sweet but oh-so-creamy marvel during a trip to the Scottish Highlands when my tour driver-cum-guide dropped us off at Pitlochry for a comfort break. He also recommended those with a sweet tooth try the tablets at the Scotch Corner. “They are the best I have tasted so far.” The way he raved on about the ‘tablet’ got me curious so I joined the queue at the store for some whisky ice-cream and few tablets. And oh my god! The explosion of grainy sweetness in my mouth blew my mind.
Similar to a fudge but more crumbly in texture, a tablet has three main ingredients – sugar, butter and condensed milk. There are options of flavouring it with vanilla or whisky and adding nuts.
The internet is flooded with recipes for the Scottish Tablet and studying all of them, I’ve realised that it is absolutely fine if the colour and texture are a bit different from the one I ate in Pitlochry. Maa says a lot depends on the milk and the sugar used.
So go ahead and enjoy making this lovely confectionery, a perfect gift and treat for this season.
WARNING: The Scottish Tablet is high on calorie count and excessively high in sugar so an absolute NO for those with diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
Recipe source: Scotland
Time: 1 hour 30 mins
Caster sugar – 5 cups
Unsalted butter – 9 tablespoons
Full fat milk – 250 ml
Condensed milk – 350 ml
Salt – ½ teaspoon
Vanilla extract – ½ teaspoon
Note: If using salted butter, skip the salt. Adding vanilla is optional.
If you don’t have caster sugar, replace with coarsely ground granulated sugar; the result is much better.
Drag out the deepest heavy-bottom pan in your kitchen, place it on low flame, plop in the butter and let it melt. Add the sugar, salt, milk and stir until sugar dissolves completely. This is very important. The sugar has to dissolve completely for the tablet to set.
Bring to a boil and simmer on high heat for around 6-8 minutes. Meanwhile, layer a tray with baking parchment and keep aside.
Keep stirring but don’t scrape the sides of your pan. I did both and ended up with little burnt caramel-y brown bits in my tablet.
Turn the heat down, add the condensed milk and stir. Allow the mix to simmer for about 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
This is about the time when you need to start checking if the mixture will set.
Experts suggest using a thermometer to check whether the mixture is done. I don’t have one. So I used the method suggested by Maa. Drizzle a few drops on a cold surface, give it a few minutes. If it sets and comes off with a push then the mixture is done.
Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and beat vigorously for around 10 minutes. The mixture needs to be thick but pour-able.
Once it has reached the desired consistency, pour it into the tray. Allow it to set for 20 minutes before scoring squares – or other shapes. Leave it out to dry for a few hours. And then gobble away.
1 Didi – older sister
photos: Vaibhav Tanna