Dan’s gift for 2010: Scottish tablet
Ach, ye wee nonprofiteers! Hae ye a poke o’ goodness!
My wife hails from Scotland, and if there’s one thing the Scots know, it’s unhealthy food. Some of that unhealthy food is completely delicious. Tablet (sometimes called “all-butter tablet”), for example, is one of the finest sweets ever invented, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what (aside from the name) is keeping it from being popular in America. It’s sort of fudgy in its final form, with a harder consistency.
This recipe is an Americanized version of the one in Maw Broon’s Cookbook, which one of my in-laws told me was the top selling book in Scotland two years ago, other than the final installment of that boy wizard series called Harry Potter. The cookbook is full of delectable Scottish traditions, sure to cause pleasure. And heart disease. I’ve Americanized the recipe because the Scots do things by weight, and we do things by volume. Also, Maw Broon’s recipe is written in a Scottish dialect that, although entertaining, is completely unintelligible. 125 g salted butter (rich-flavored butter encouraged) = one stick 1 kg sugar = about 5 cups 1 cup whole milk 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar and the milk.
There’s a lot of sugar just sitting there in the milk and melted butter.
Stir continuously while the sugar dissolves. This takes quite some time. I’m always surprised at how long it takes, but you really need the mixture to be smooth; otherwise the final product ends up very gritty.
Getting the sugar to dissolve can take a stupid-long time, well over an hour (last time it took me two).
Add the condensed milk and turn up the heat enough so that the mixture can come to a boil slowly. I should perhaps warn you at this point that the mixture gets as hot as molten lava. You should resist licking your wooden spoon (or stirring implement of choice). This is true for the previous step as well, but it’s especially dangerous during this stage when it starts looking delicious. It’s a mistake you only make once, but you don’t want to make it.
Adding the sweetened condensed milk starts to get it all caramel-y delicious.
The recipe says that you should let it simmer for 20 minutes. My experience is that it always takes a lot longer than that, possibly 40 minutes or more. You want the mixture to turn a stunning golden brown color. The recipe also says that you can test the mixture for firmness by dropping a tiny bit in cold water to see if it holds its shape. I’ve found this to be a tricky test as well, because it can fool you into thinking it’s done.
Ooh yeah, that’s the color we’re looking for.
Once it’s golden brown (little flecks of darker brown are normal, by the way) and holds its shape in cold water, remove the saucepan from the heat. Beat strongly with your wooden spoon for five minutes. It should get quite difficult to do. Pour the mixture into a baking tray. Score it with a knife into the size of pieces you want (I recommend keeping them pretty small), and let it cool.
Grease the pan (with more butter, of course) and let it cool for a little while before scoring.
Then cut it along the scores and enjoy the heck out of it. If you feel like an upgrade, use organic ingredients (yes, I found organic sweetened condensed milk). Less guilt that way! Hae ye a Happy New Year, ye wee jessies! Dinnae be a girl’s blouse, and dinnae forget ta sing Rabbie Burns’ “Auld Lange Syne”!