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Home • Recipe • Scottish Tablet
Published by Amy
Traditional homemade Scottish Tablet, made to our families recipe, which I’m now sharing with all of you!
Confession time… I’m a sugar addict. It will be of no surprise to those around me to be fair! From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I’m looking for my next sugar hit. It’s certainly not ideal but growing up in Scotland with sweet treats like Scottish Tablet, it’s really unavoidable.
A couple of weeks ago I came across a wee image on Facebook that made me laugh. It compared candy floss, syrup and sugar to Scottish tablet, with tablet coming out tops in the sweetness stakes. Probably a pretty accurate comparison to be fair!
Anyone who has indulged in Scottish Tablet will tell you it’s really like nothing else in the world. A first glance you would be forgiven for assuming it is fudge but when you bite into a piece it instantly becomes clear that this is no fudge! With a gritty, melt-in-the-mouth texture and so sweet it makes your teeth ache; it really is quite unique.
Scottish tablet in theory is quite easy to make but it does take a bit of skill to get just right. I would always recommend a sugar thermometer to get the temperature exact and be prepared to use some elbow grease beating the tablet to its setting point. Even then, the perfect tablet still comes down to a bit of luck. But when it does go perfectly, you’ll end up with the best tablet you’ve ever tasted!
It is tricky to try and explain what tablet is to someone who has never tried it. Scottish Tablet is truly unique and although there are some sweet treats that are similar, nothing really quite compares.
Scottish Tablet is made with milk, butter, condensed milk and A LOT of sugar. It is boiled to a high temperature, before beating the mixture until thickened, and then setting it in a tin until completely cool.
Traditionally tablet is served cut into bars or squares, or you can simply break it into rough pieces for a more rustic appearance. You will find tablet on offer at weddings, Hogmanay celebrations, Burns Suppers, on St Andrews day, basically any big parties or celebrations in Scotland. As well as at bake sales – tablet is always guaranteed to sell-out at bake sales.
But, for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of eating the best tasting food in Scotland (sorry, haggis – you’re a close second though) I will take a stab at describing what Scottish Tablet tastes like… Think the sweetest fudge you’ve ever had, without the vanilla flavour, but more of a crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth texture. And multiple the sweetness by about a hundred. Then you’re pretty close to what tablet tastes like!
Traditional Scottish Tablet is actually quite easy to make, but there’s a few things that can make or break your success.
You start by dissolving your sugar and milk in a large pan, over a gentle heat. Next you add your butter and allow that to melt. Before finally adding your condensed milk. You will increase the heat of your pan to bring everything to a boil, until it reaches Soft-Ball stage (120°c). This is where a sugar thermometer is a must-have!
The final stage of tableting making is the beating. You need to allow the mixture to cool briefly before beating with a wooden spoon. It can take a bit of work but it will start to thicken. To finish, simply pour your tablet into a greased tin and allow to cool before cutting into bars or squares.
Caster SugarBeing sweeter than sweet, sugar was always going to be the biggest ingredient in tablet! Caster sugar is by far the best, due to it’s finer texture dissolving easily when combined with the liquids. You can swap to Golden Caster Sugar for a more caramel-y flavour and darker coloured tablet, should you prefer.
MilkIdeally, you want to use a full-fat milk. This is what a traditional homemade Scottish tablet would be made with. However, I have used semi-skimmed in a pinch and had good success.
Butter (or Margarine…)Salted or unsalted butter is fine; just whichever you have to hand.Or there is the option to use a block margarine. Many tablet purists would not approve of swapping true butter for margarine, however I can confirm it works just as well. And with the amount of sugar and the degree of sweetest in tablet, it means it’s very difficult to tell the difference, in terms of taste. If you do opt for a margarine, just be sure to use a block margarine as opposed to the spreadable kind – the latter will interfere with your tablet setting, due to the lower fat content.
Condensed MilkLiterally one of my most favourite ingredients in baking. Just be sure to leave a little condensed milk in the tin and on the spoon (purely for licking clean!).
• Use your biggest pan when making tablet – bigger than you think you will need. Trust me! Once the ingredients start to boil, they will expand too. There’s no joy in cleaning hot, sticky, tablet disasters from your stovetop.
• This is one recipe where I would always, always recommend using a sugar thermometer. Without it, you are less likely to have success as it requires a bit of guesswork and experience to know exactly when the tablet has reached Soft-Ball stage.
• When it comes to beating your tablet, it can take a good bit of elbow grease! Stick with it. You want to beat it until it starts to thicken, but not too thick either. The good news is that you can’t really over-beat tablet – even if it is thicker than you wanted, it’ll still taste great, it just won’t look as pretty and smooth on top.
• I have heard of some people using an electric whisk to beat their tablet. This isn’t something I have ever tried personally but if you struggle with the beating of your tablet, or have limited mobility, this could be a good option to try.
• For perfectly neat tablet, score the top of your tablet to the shape you wish to cut (bars or squares are most traditional) after it’s had a little time to cool, but still warm. This will make it much easier to get a smooth finish when you come to cutting your tablet.
Gluten-free: Scottish tablet is naturally glute-free but be sure to check your ingredients individually when preparing for anyone with intolerances or coeliac disease.
Vegan: To make this a Vegan Scottish Tablet recipe, simply replace the dairy full-fat milk for sweetened soya milk, and use vegan condensed milk. Swap the butter for your dairy-free block margarine.
Yummy… It is quite easy to make but it does take a bit of skill to get right. It is worth giving a try.
Can anyone advise where I’ve gone wrong when the results is more like toffee?
Not boiled long enough. You can put it back in the pot, slowly melt it and boil it again. Also, you can use your electric hand mixer to do the beating.
I recommend using a n electric hand mixer every time
NO! You cannot use metal to beat the tablet. It goes hard and sugary – like Kendal mint cake!!
I’ve been making tablet for years and always use a hand held mixer and my tablet is delicious
Try it Gillian. I have been making tablet for 6 decades and for the past few years have been using an electric hand mixer very successfully. Most Scottish recipes are similar but I always add a couple of big spoons full of Golden Syrup. Gives it a nice colour.
Rubbish! I always use my electric hand mixer, and it turns out perfect every time!
It is all in the beating as it sets. It needs to be rigorous. I add a teaspoonful of vanilla to mine as well.
You have to get the Colour right golden brown then beat for ages until ready to set
I like my tablet pale in colour. How best can I achieve that?
Hi Mandy, in my opinion, it’s all to do with the temperature. Next time you’re making tablet keep it at a low heat until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Once it’s at the bubbling stage keep stirring. If you see any small brown bits, turn the heat down again otherwise it’ll turn to the toffee stage again. Keep stirring until it’s a nice light tan colour.
Temperature was too high for too long.
I agree, If the temp is too low, you end up with fudge, which can be recovered by remelting at taking to and holding at the right temp. If the temp is too high, you end up with toffee….enjoy the toffee and try again.
It is all in the beating at the end as the tablet cools. It is to do with how the crystals form into the correct texture. It also gives you a good workout. I have heard others using a mandatory mixer but I just beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon.
Did you use a candy thermometer? Imo it was cooked too long (to hard crack stage?). Nothing wrong with toffee though. Break it up or crush and top ice cream with it. Then try again . If you did use a thermometer, you may want to try a different one
I always use soft brown sugar when making tablet. Gets the colour just right
Just followed your recipe and used my new thermometer …amazing thing is the old way of boiling for 20 minutes gives exactly 120° !! Thermometer not so hit and miss though ;) xx
I’ve tried making this recipe to the T but it still comes out soft any ideas
Need to let it boil longer and let the colour carmelize. Take it off heat and beat vigorously with electric beaters for at least 5 mins until it starts to get thick then pour into the pan
I’ve had trouble getting tablet to be firm also, and I am guessing that at higher altitudes we need to boil longer. I’m at 814 feet (248 meters). I’m going to try a few degrees higher on my candy thermometer next time.
Och lassie I’m at 5000feet and mine sets fine.
I’m in Australia and find a bit temperamental to set if the temperature and particularly humidity are on the high side. Works fine one day won’t set the next
I boil mine then let it simmer for about 30/40 mins till it changes colour then take it off and beat it and works a treat
After boiling I simmer for 30/49 mins works better then beat it
You need to beat it more.
A secret from a Glasgow Lassie to success for all you Tablet Lovers, when you remove your pot from the stove, very quickly add a tablespoon of vinegar then start beating like your taste buds depended on it lol works every time whether you got it right or wrong + no one will know !
I was always told it was all in the beating
Can i use lighter lurpak butter
Not really as it doesn’t have the milk solids of regular butter, it’s blend of butter and oil.
That’s nooo butter.
The ONLY butter to use, honestly have used it for years but any good butter does
I love this recipe but is it suppose to be hard?
Yes – you should definitely have to bite through it, but then it should crumble and melt in the mouth
Yes it should be hard but melt in the mouth with a gritty texture.
Shouldn’t have too gritty a texture but definitely should have a little bite, need to dissolve the sugar more to get rid of that ‘grittiness’. Don’t over boil or will go too hard
It definitely needs to be gritty if it’s Scottish tablet!! Otherwise it’s not tablet at all
Love this. Would it be okay to share on our social media channels?
Ended up with toffee don’t know why ??
Every grain of sugar MUST be dissolved before you let it boil. That is the very best tip I was ever given. Take off heat immediately a bubble appears, give it a minute and put back on to heat.
I cheated and melted the sugar and milk in the microwave–two 90 second runs. Then I poured it in the pan and continued cooking as the recipe says. I also used a candy thermometer and cooked it to soft ball stage. Also used the mixer.
Did you put both lots of milk in? I’ve made it twice and even put the whole lot in the oven after I failed ot get rid of the graininess, but it’s still very grainy, tasted divine though! I added fresh vanilla
Did the microwave trick work to dissolve the sugar? It seemed to take ages on the stove for the sugar to dissolve. Thank you
Ha ha I’ve not tried it yet but I can imagine that happening to mine
Don’t know that I would make tablet with recipe again – 1. Strained my wrist and almost burnt out the motor in my beaters. 2. I doubt my granny would have had enough time for the beating required considering she would have been doing it by hand or even with rotary hand beaters it would put a hell of strain on her wrists.
Use an electric beater for a couple of minutes then beat by hand to get rid of bubbles. Only a couple of minutes and pour. Good luck.
Isn’t granny a saucy bugger
My mum used to set the pan in a sink with cold water and only had to beat for a couple of minutes.
I was taught to do this too or as my nana used to do out on the cold doorstep whilst chatting to her neighbours
My friend does that. Sits it in the sink in cold water and beats it counting to 100 with a wooden spoon. I add a couple of big spoons full of golden syrup and use my electric beaters. Have made hundreds of batches of tablet in my day.
My Scottish granny spent many hours in the kitchen and even in her 80s was quote capable of stirring a tablet mix for the required amount of time. Mind you, she could also rustle up a batch of drop scones in the time it took to brew a fresh pot of tea, but Scottish grannies are like that.
Totally agree. My mum used to make huge quantities of tablet to sell ‘round the doors’ with me in the pram. I’m 61 and can still remember being allowed, on occasion, to beat the tablet. And yes, she could rustle up drop scones at the drop of a hat. I must get round to trying this recipe though, but thinking about the impact on my waistline.
Those were the real Scottish grannies. Mine was a handful this & a handful that & scones made by time tea was brewed
My granny was the same, I only asked for a recipe once and it literally came like, take 1 handful of flour, and a dash of salt and a sprinkle of… I left it at that lol. Gotta love our Scottish grannies.
I’m sure my Mum was thinking of someone who’d upset her. She may have been wee but she sure as heck beat that mix with a wooden spoon and grim determination on her face.
Just finished making this!! Follow the direction, it will come out Perfect!! My gran used to hand beat it, is used electric mixer. Best recipe ♡♡
can I use an stand mixer to beat it?:)
there is no need to beat it ,I have never beat it when I make it I let all the sugar dissolve on a medium heat then put the electric stove higher ( the electric burner should be at 5 when you see the bubbles forming keep stirring for 18 minutes ( the tablet should be a medium brown colour ) take off heat and pour on to a baking pan and let stand till hardened. for your information it the tablet does not harden when placed on the baking pan just place back into the pot and let it boil again keep stirring it for one or two minutes and again pour into the baking pan and it will harden I know this through experience Good luck
I thought your 18 minute tip was very helpful and saying when the colour should change. My 2nd batch as first didn’t turn out. Can’t wait for it to set properly as it looks perfect. Thankyou
I boiled it for the 20 mins stirri g all the time, then used my electric mixer for about 10 mins poured into my tins, it is delicious. Just the type I like nice and soft and not grainy..
Your not-needing-the-beating tip was a godsend, as was re-boiling if it doesn’t set. Your tips saved my first ever batch of tablet. It was also dairy free so I needed all the help I could get!Thank you for sharing!
You can stand in a bowl of cold water for the first minute of beating which greatly reduces the time.
Doesn’t standing in a bowl of cold water make you go all blue ????
Only your tossies
Is this the crumbly or the creamy type of tablet? I am after the crumbly kind.
Just wanted to say that Canada is completely mad because our typical tins of sweetened condensed milk come in 300ml, unlike the 380ml or 390ml that the rest of the world (U.S. and the U.K.) seems to get them in. So many recipes call for ‘one tin’ of the stuff, but that ‘one tin’ is 380ml or 390ml, so our ‘one tin’ is never enough!
Good point to make. Thanks from a 71 year old.
Hi, looking for a bit of advice. I’ve made this recipie a few times now and the first few times it worked perfect however the last couple of times after beating it when I go to pour it out it starts frothing in the pan and continues once it’s in my tray for a few seconds before deflating. It seems to set pretty quickly and when you taste the tablet it tastes fine and is not grainy.
after it is made, how do you store it? and for how long? i need to make this as well as other sweets for an event in 3 weeks, and want to get a head start on my work?
Store on wax paper in a tin. I wouldn’t freeze it.
What is golden syrup?
Fantastic recipe!!!Just like I remember tablet when I was wee and my gran made it..aaah happy sugary memories
Hi what if you dont have a thermometer
Just use a saucer and cold water for testing.
My Dad would make this (60+yrs ago) as a treat when we were kids. We didn’t know what it was, we were young & born in US, he was from Scotland. He made it to perfection & used only a glass of cool water to test the mixture. If it didn’t ball up just right by the time it hit the bottom of the glass it needed more time….then heated a little more. He would also add some extra treats once in a while! …..but he always made sure he “scored” it before it set…. LOL .. no squabbles over who got a bigger piece! He was a great cook. ❤️
I have just tried making this, followed the recipe to the letter and it has been a huge success. The guys at work will get a fair treat tomorrow. Thanks
I have always had a sweet tooth for tablet, but have never made it, until last week. This recipe worked out a treat and I took about 70% of it into work with a health and tooth warning.. it was just so moreish and loved by all who tried it. Thank you, it will definitely be made again and again.
Oh yummy! This is just like Dutch borstplaat, roomborstplaat or roomfondant. A sweet we enjoy around Sinterklaas in the beginning of December. It is sweetness up to a different level!
I just made this with speculaas spice mix…….Dutch Scottish combo. Mmmmm
What is Speculas spice and where would I purchase it. Sounds interesting thanks Mrs Craig’s Wee Boy James
I’ve been making tablet for 50+ years, and this is the best recipe!! Thank you
Hi granny, Why use caster sugar…. Granulated sugar at almost half the price does the same…. I. Also add a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Just made my first batch, as soon as that is out of the tin, Im making a second batch and put in a handful of walnuts for a change. Ive some nice cellophane bags and some sparkley string I shall add small bundles to everyones Christmas present. Thankyou, Judy Chestenrfield.ju
Or just put your granulated sugar in a blender and blast it to make your own caster! A tip I learned from my mum. :-)
Could you please give me this recipe using American measurements… My Mum was from Scotland and has since passed. She always made tablet for us. I would love to try this recipe. Tablet was actually made to give to the men who went to war. Tea time was a must and dropping a piece of tablet in their tea was easier than trying to carry cream and sugar.
I live in Michigan but was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. My Dad was a baker and confectioner, and made tablet all the time. I make it here and usually make quite a big batch. 4 lbs Sugar 1 pint full milk Half pound unsalted butter 2 tins condensed milk When I take it off the heat, I add one tablespoon Vanilla essence. Hope that helps.
Just for clarity, I’m guessing that the recipe should read 4 cups of sugar instead of 4 lbs…
re:previous comment: my mistake- I didn’t notice that this recipe makes a double batch, which would indeed call for 4 lbs. My apologies.
I used Google to translate the exact amounts to U.S. The butter is half a cup or one stick. The sugar is 4 1/2 cups not four. The whole milk is 1 cup. Our tins of condensed milk (evaporated milk), are slightly smaller in the U.S. (12 oz is 340 grams, compared to a 397 gram tin in the recipe), but I used it as is with only 340 grams.
My results: I set the timer for 20 minutes when it came to a boil as per someone’s comment above, and I was watching a candy thermometer. After dissolving the sugar, I turned the heat up to 5 1/2 (out of 10, so slightly higher than medium heat). At 12 minutes my temperature was 115 C / 240 F, which according to my thermometer is EXACTLY soft ball stage, but my tablet was also starting to scorch so I had to remove it immediately! I did notice I was also getting “sheeting” off of the spoon, for any of you who make jelly or preserves the old fashioned way, so I knew it would set, I was just worried about the brown bits giving a poor taste and texture. I pulled out as much of the bits as I could, then started beating, almost didn’t pour in time while I still could. I was so surprised it came out so well! The taste is lovely, the texture is creamy, it set in a few minutes. I am at 814 feet above sea level.
For those of you in the U.S. you might try using my conversions for amounts. And I would suggest to everyone that if you have had trouble getting yours to set, you might try looking up the “sheeting” indication for soft ball, as I always had trouble with no-pectin added jams until I learned that method. Basically, you just lift your spoon out and turn it on it’s side. When it no longer drips a single drip from one location of the spoon, but instead you get multiple drips or wide drips, then you know you are there! It will set.
Thank you so much for this recipe! :)
I found another site that had the same recipe and posted the U.S. equivalents: 4 1/2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of butter, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup milk, 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla.
Thank you for posting this recipe. I made it yesterday, and it turned out perfectly. I have always loved chocolate fudge here in the U.S., but tried Scottish vanilla tablet last year at a local Scottish confectionary. I fell in love with it and recently found recipes online. So happy I can save money and make this at home.
Best tablet recipe I’ve tried – thank you!
Hey I really enjoyed making this but it didn’t set properly… I made sure all the sugar was dissolved etc… I think it’s the butter I used-clover? Any suggest what the best butter to use? Thanks
Hi Zoe. For traditional tablet, proper butter would be used. However margarine-type butters can be substituted with great results too. Nine times out of ten when your tablet doesn’t set it’s due to the temperature not been high enough, or not beating the mixture enough. That being said, sometimes you do everything right and it still doesn’t set perfectly. Give it another go and make sure the temperature reaches Soft-ball stage (120°c) and you beat it until it’s almost setting – it can take a while and make your arm ache!
On section 4 you say to remove from heat and beat but it it does not say to return to heat and keep beating. I kept mine off the heat and kept beating until it went very thick and then put it into my tray and it’s a very pale colour. I only realised this after reading reviews. Feel I have made a big mistake and it now will not set I am sure. Can you confirm
Hi Margie. You do not return the mixture to the heat, you keep it off the heat for beating. As such, it sounds like you’ve done everything right. How did your tablet turn out?
My tablet turned out great Amy the 2nd time but I keep worrying as it comes up to the boiling stage that I leave it for too long. Now have a thermometer so hopefully this will help Thankyou
How do you know all the sugar has dissolved
Same way as making tea.
Hi Peter. When you add the sugar it will have a gritty (sugary) texture. You know it has dissolved once it has a smooth consistency instead.
i dont think the recipe is clear – keep pan off when it boils? or take off and put back on? – what do you mean ball like texture? tried that but ended up with sand. thanks
Hi Steve. Sorry you don’t think the recipe is clear. To clarify; you keep the mixture on the heat until it reaches 160°c (also known as Soft-Ball stage in sugar boiling, as it is also often noted on as sugar thermometers). As the recipe states, it is once this temperature has been reached that you remove the mixture from the heat – and don’t put it back on.
Hope that helps.
Hi Amy and Granny, As a Scottish Borders Grandad who has been making tablet for more than 50 years I think your article is great and I hope you don’t mind me making a few wee comments. I agree with your basic ingredients of butter, sugar, whole milk, and caster (or to some, castor) sugar, but I would also add vanilla extract to the list. The actual quantities of each are less important than what you actually do with them I believe. For example, in the UK with current packaging, I suggest that 1 bag of caster sugar (1 Kg), 1 tin condensed milk (397g), half a pint of whole milk (284ml), half a block of hard butter – unsalted preferably (125g), plus a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract (only to be added at the end of cooking process) makes life a bit easier when it comes to getting your ingredients together. No need to get too uptight about accurate quantities – and you still end up with great tasting confectionery. So, for those not in the UK, just use the products and product sizes that you have available. E.g. 1 tin of condensed milk, half a pint of half a litre of whole milk, half a block of butter (blocks are usually either 8oz or 454g), and 1 bag (either a 1Kg or 2Lb) super-fine sugar / castor sugar if you can find it, if not then you should just use granulated sugar. Condensed milk: please used condensed milk and not evaporated milk: even though they are similar in both being milk evaporated to around 60 percent, the added sugar content to condensed milk helps provide to the caramelisation and ‘toffee’ taste of great Scottish tablet; Milk: please use whole milk, don’t try using skimmed or semi-skimmed alternatives as the fat content is important in helping to improve the stabilisation (along with the fat in the butter) of the sugar mix as it is heated and concentrated as the tablet mixture is heated; Butter: please use unsalted if possible, however salted can be used it that’s all you’ve got: you’re just trying to reduce the amount of ‘additionalities’ in the mix where you can. All extraneous materials that can induce crystalisation of the mix (before you want it) are to be avoided where you can; MUST be full cream butter and not some weight watcher alternative; Sugar: now here we come to the most interesting and most important ingredient: caster/castor sugar and granulated sugars are both the same chemical – sucrose – but are very different in how they react to dissolution. Caster will dissolve much more easily and this helps in the initial stages of heating the tablet contents and getting them all to amalgamate and form a stable non-crystalline solution. As you heat this liquid ‘mix’ the key is to maintain everything in solution and not generate any crystals as water evaporates from the mix and the sugar concentration increases. The mere fact of you stirring the solution will tend to induce some crystallisation of the mix as the sugar molecules get closer and closer together as the water is driven off as the temperature increases. (For those of you at height, remember that your liquid’s boiling point will reduce by 1 degree for every 300 metres higher than sea level you are, so you guys will need to adjust your thinking on what temperature you will need to get to to reach soft-ball stage which is 235 to 240 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level – and that’s why I would always recommend using the physical feel of the mix over only using a sugar thermometer). Some people may suggest molasses flavoured sugars, such as soft brown, dark brown, demorara, etc, but I caution against, as again although this may impart some additional caramelly notes to the mix, it does add additional salts that help to promote pre-crystallisation of the mix. The best way to achieve the correct caramel note to the taste and smell and colour of a good Scottish tablet is to have long slow cooking of the mix as I will describe later; Vanilla extract: never use vanilla essence, only use great quality vanilla extract – extract is natural, essence is synthetic. Also, you only add this at the end once the sort ball stage has been reached and the solution has cooled sufficiently for you to start to think about beating the mix. Some tips…… 1. In a LARGE pan, you need lots of space for the mix to bubble up, add the sugar and milk and start to heat and with MINIMAL stirring with a long wooden spoon or spurtle (you don’t want to burn your hands with splashes of the hot sugar mix) mix until sugar dissolved; then add condensed milk and butter, and continue to heat slowly and GENTLY stir the mix. Keep heating and occasionally stirring GENTLY as your mix gets up through the boiling and frothing stages, making sure that at all times you are stirring across the entire bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and little burnt bits of sugar that can affect the look of the final product; 2. I wash out the condensed milk tin when empty and fill with cold water: so that when I get the mixture through the various stages and sufficient water has been evaporated, and sufficient colour generated through caramelisation of the mix, I can take teaspoons samples, drop them into my cold water and see and feel what the tablet mix is to make sure that I have achieved the correct sort ball consistency – definitely not too soft but not too hard either. And on occasion, if I have gone too far and the mix is too hot and too much evaporation has taken place and I have got into hard ball or beyond stage, then I take the pan off the best let it cool a bit and add a little more milk and start to heat and stir again until I do get to a good soft ball consistency; 3. I’m a believer of the long slow heat rather than a quick rush to boil or a precise time measured boil for getting the best flavoured and coloured and textured tablet. There’s nothing worse than a peely wally or a gritty or a soft fudgy confectionery that someone is describing as Scottish Tablet. Take your time, use the best ingredients you can, keep your stirring on the gentle side and not overly enthusiastic, make sure you have actually reached true soft ball stage, and then you’ve got to one of the most important points to achieving good tablet; 4. If during the heating and stirring stage, you do get a little build up of crystals or gritty material around your own at the surface of the bubbling mix, then with a wet pastry brush with a little water on it you can gently clean up those crystals and clean the pan. Remember, the key to great tablet is to make sure that you have no pre-crystallisation; 5. So you now have the tablet mix to the correct soft ball stage, now take the pan off the heat and let the mix cool down slightly, stirring gently, you don’t want to generate any sugar crystals yet. Once the mix has cooled for about five minutes, with gentle stirring, add in your two teaspoons of great quality vanilla essence, this will enhance the taste of the mix substantially I believe but it is not essential; 6. What is essential I think is to make sure that at the soft ball stage you have crystal free mix – easily checked by feeling the consistency of the ball in your fingers and then tasting it to make sure it is smooth and creamy and has absolutely no grainy texture to it. So, now that you have cooled the mix a few degrees, added the vanilla extract it you’re going to do that, and have only mixed the solution with gentle stirring, you’ve got to the point where you now want to induce crystallisation – but only small crystals not big crystals. The key to crystal size is solution temperature and molecular concentration: the hotter the temperature and molecular concentration the greater the tendency to bigger crystals, so with our cooling mixture we now start to beat and keep beating. The key here is that once we start to get sugar crystallisation with nice little crystals we want that process to continue so we need to keep beating until the mix has cooled even more, and more and more of the space between the crystals has been taken away and any tendency for large crystal formation to be minimised. This is how you get a lovely smooth, buttery feel to the tablet – it has a nice mouthfeel to it. If it’s too hard then you went past the correct boiling temperature, if it’s too grainy then you probably got crystallisation too early or stated beating too quickly or when it was too hot, and if it’s too peely wally or anaemic looking then you probably didn’t cook it for long enough or slowly enough to induce the correct amount of caramelisation from the sugars; 7. Once you’ve beaten it and it’s now thickening up pour it into your pre-buttered confectionery/baking tray. But remember, that one of the nicest things is to scrape off the hardening tablet mix from your pan and try it even before it has truly gone solid. Delicious, but remember not to try when too hot. Kids will love to scrape the pan, certainly my kids and grand-kids do……. 8. And finally, apologies for going on and on and on. Hope you all enjoy your Scottish Tablet making…….
Your instructions for making tablet sound almost identical to my mom’s chocolate fudge recipe in Tennessee, USA. We were even warned not to run in the house, while the fudge was cooling, so that crystals wouldn’t form. Mom also put a lid on the pan for a minutes so that steam would help “wash” any tiny, unseen sugar crystals down the sides of the pan. Her fudge was the creamiest fudge I’ve ever eaten and I wish I had enough arm strength to hand-beat fudge like she could! I had Scottish tablet a few years ago when I was over there. I look forward to trying this recipe with your hints.
Really great tips there! Ive made this recipe 4 times now. One was perfect one was ok one was too hard going into the tin and the other was too soft. Looking forward to trying it again soon. Many thanks
Hi Grampy Robin.Sorry but I fell asleep reading your long winded story..I much prefer the short recipe at start of the tablet making.. Sorry again but my concentration was absolutely lost in your story.
Sorry, just noticed that I boobed in my above comment in regards milk quantity I should have said quarter of a litre not half a litre. However, even if you were to add far too much milk, it’s not a disaster. Remember, it’s all about molecular concentration and temperature elevation. It is only by our solution liquid evaporating that we get our temperature increasing, so if you have more liquid to start with then it will just take that wee bit longer to heat up (and gently mix) the tablet mixture before we get to the ultra important soft ball stage.
Made this and it came out perfect first time! Thank. You!
I’m going to try this for my daughters wedding favours. Can you tell me the shelf life of the finished tablet. So I can see how far in advance to make this.
My husband and son with Scottish blood thoroughly enjoyed my 1st attempt at making Tablet. Thank you so much for the recipe.
I tried making this but started with a pan that was too small (as I found when it started to boil over, at 110 deg C). After much beating, I eventually gave up and poured the mixture into the tin. Hours later, it was still soft and I wasn’t happy with it. I decided to return it to a larger pan and this time brought it to 116 deg C, beat it until it thickened and then put it in the tin. After a couple of hours it was still bendy and I almost threw it away. The next day, I decided on an experiment… after cooking dinner in the oven at 180 deg C, I switched the oven off and put the tin of fudge in the oven until it cooled off. My idea was to try to reduce the moisture content in the fudge. It worked! I hope this helps anyone else having the trouble I had with this confection. The result: delicious tablet, done my way :)
hi I have just made a batch of tablet, first one,,, when I had the mixture boiling I couldn’t get it over 110 Celsius, it looked hot, was bubbling away but after 15 minutes still wouldn’t go over 110 using a good thermometer, any ideas.
I have followed this same recipe for years, but my last 4 batches have started to froth as I go to pour at one time causing a severe burn to my fingers . No idea why this is happening.. any ideas.
Made this and it was delicious, thanks for the great recipe! Now I’d like to make a whiskey version for Christmas, so can I just add 3tbs of whiskey to this recipe?
Sugar thermometers says soft ball at 115 but this recipe says 120… should it be the hotter or cooler? I’ve made this a few times fine, but last nights still seems soft. I took off at exactly soft boil (on thermometer) last night. But maybe also beat it slightly less than normal (because the last one I made was too thick when I poured it), so not sure if that also made the difference?
Hiya, how long should the sugar take to dissolve?
I have made tablet for 55 years, and, until seeing your recipe a year ago, I used my Aunt Nell’s. For a while I sold through shops, and garages, also Glamis Castle, using her recipe. Now, following your recipe exactly I have consistent results, thank you so much for sharing!
I completely underestimated the size of pan required but once I’d sorted that out and got the mixture to the magic 120 degrees everything worked out perfectly and the tablet is the tablet of my childhood – not the dry texture I’ve been buying in the shops. Thank you for sharing this
Made this recipe and it turned out absolutely perfectly. I boiled it for 15mins on high heat then moved it onto a really low heat for 15mins (stirring at all times) and then it was ready to poor into the tin. No mixing needed.Scottish husbands valentines present sorted! Thank you!
made this last night but don’t know where I went wrong I let it set over night and its soft ? thought i should be able to bit into it? either way it still tastes yummy but unfortunately I was making it for a gift and because i failed can’t really do that now maybe a sugar thermometer might help?
If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, you can use the old-fashioned method to check for “soft-ball” stage: get a glass about half full of very cold water. Drop about half a teaspoon of the hot candy into the water. You can dip your fingers in there and you should be able to form the candy into a soft ball. If it’s not cooked enough, it will just dissolve into the water and it won’t form a ball. If it’s been cooked too long, it will form into a very firm ball. This is what medieval cooks used to do, which is why it’s called “soft ball.”
You probably didn’t get it hot enough. You need to get it up to Soft Ball temp which is about 240F, around 114C. After it comes of the heat you do need to beat it, particularly if you have not stirred it much, the beating causes it to crystallize with many fine crystals, this what gives it its texture. Hope this helps :).
Need some help…my first batch was to die for however ever batch since has been grainy I follow to letter. Help please
Hi I love this recipe . Please can you tel me the best way to store and how long it last please. Many thanks
If you wrap it well it freezes well. I do it all the time when preparing batches for church sales. Of course cut it into desired quantities before freezing.
Best tablet recipe I’ve ever used. Turns out perfect every time
Does anyone have a recipe for tablet without using sweetened condensed milk? And any idea what happens if you use a higher percentage fat milk? T.I.A.
Is it ok to add some whisky in the end or would I need a different recipe for whisky tablet?
Sounds yummy to me! I’ll drink to that!
Hi, do you know the shelf life for the tablet once you have made it? Thank you
Question: what percentage of fat is your full fat milk? In the US it is 3.5%. I was wondering if it might be different elsewhere as some things are, and when the solids and fats are needed for taste and success, would it make a difference here?
Same here in the uk, 3.5%
This sounds very much like New Orleans pralines. They are very sweet and kind of gritty too..Beating with a wooden spoon, while very vigorous, does give it a better (more traditional) texture than using an electric mixer.
Remember, humidity has a part in making any type of boiled candy. The higher the humidity, the longer you need to cook. Try to make on sunny or dry days. Or aim for the 120°C rather than 115°C if the weather is cloudy or wet.
I follow this recipe but I add a couple of Tblsp of golden syrup which gives it a lovely colour.
I add a dessert spoon of treacle that gives a lovely color and taste
best recipe I’ve tried in a long time
The best recipe I’ve found – reminds me of childhood ! I make it for the NHS staff at a lounge I volunteer at ! They love it !! Thank you ❤️
Cannot get it past liquid form, doing my head in. Not your fault, but I’m pure raging!
I boiled until I got a soft ball on dropping into cold water, as advised, and I beat this as advised, but it did not even set into a fudge, let alone tablet. I am quite an experienced cook, but found the instructions light on detail and think an inexperienced cook would have no hope. Also, I found the taste of the mixture pretty revolting. Threw the whole lot away. Even the lickings weren’t tempting.
I have been making tablet for a good few years now using much the same quantities as this recipe and most times get it just right although there have been a few occasions when it has been slightly too soft but still ok. My biggest tip is never make this in a non-stick pan as you could end up losing the coating in your tablet. I use my jeelie pan which give it lots of room to slop about and safer to work with than a smaller pan. On rare occasions my mixture has stuck to the bottom of the pan and when I have stirred it, I have gotten brown bits floating up into the mix. I have in the past chucked chucked the whole lot out but then realised that they were actually lumps of caramel so took the pan off the stove and beat it like hell until all the dark bits disappeared. The end result was a darker tablet which tastes more caramelly. So never chuck it out if it goes wrong before trying this. I am thinking of doing this tablet to make up miniature boxes of it as favours for my son’s wedding later in the year.
Awesome!!!!! My sister visited Scotland, had I heard of Scottish tablet, no but having a very sweet tooth went on Google and found this recipe. WOW Sugar rush explosion. Thing’s learnt from making Scottish tablet, you do need a big pan, good jam thermometer to reach 120 degrees C don’t be frightened when boiling the mixture up to 120 degrees C just increase heat slowly and leave it to set properly don’t be impatient. Once you bite into your 1st piece mmmm heaven, small pieces best. Can’t wait for the grandchildren to come and try it. Enjoy.
This looks delish. If I want to make this in advance of an event, how many days will it keep, and should I keep it in the fridge?
What did I do wrong if it became more of a wet sludge
I followed this recipe this morning for the first time. I used granulated sugar and it turned out perfectly. I have been making tablet for many years with mixed success, but this was first-class. Sadly it’s not for us but for a charity event maybe I will have to buy some!
This is like baking with my granny she was the best Her recipes are just the same as yours
So gooooood … so sweeet !!!!
The best and easiest way to make Scottish tablet is in the microwave
I have used this recipe 5 times now and it works every time and is so yummy. I did try to cut the beating corner once by plunging the pan into cold water while beating, it set too quick and it was not the best. Just follow the recipe to the letter, your arm needs to be hanging off before tipping it out. Well worth the pain.
This recipe is great, however I make it like my great granny did I swap the full fat milk for semi and butter for salted butter and use 1000g of caster sugar. Boil and stir until it reaches a nice light sand colour usually 20 minuets no longer as it holds the heat off the pan. Bring off the heat slowly, still stirring till simmering and then take the pot to the sink and beat fast. Run the cold water tap into the sink so the cold water cools the pan from the bottom up. When the tablet mixture starts to stick to the bottom it’s ready to put to the tray for setting. The tablet will now look darker than when you originally took it off the heat. Wait 15 minuets after putting in fridge then score. Best to leave all night but good to go after 2 hours in fridge.
Scrape pan for scraps to sprinkle on hot chocolate or ice creams or even make a cheesecake with!
yes this his very good
I have made this countless times,but this time,after switching it off,it was like a volcano coming over pan and cooker. Lovely mess. Any ideas?
Hi Catherine. My best advice is to use a much bigger pot than you anticipate needing. Tablet does require a decent amount of boiling and as a result, it can sometimes appear quite volcanic! Hope that helps!
My grandpa was 3rd or 4th gen scottish, and made a recipe just like this in the 1930s on, only used peanut butter and cocoa to replace the condensed milk and butter. I still make it today for my grandkids
I love your recipe for Scots tablet, I’ve been making it for a few years now. I’d like to try experimenting with flavours this year, to give as gifts…do you have any tried and tested variations? I’d like to try a baileys one (I’m guessing I could just substitute the milk with baileys?) or a rum & raisin?
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