Scottish Tablet/ Swiss Milk Tablet

By popular demand (Evee and Peggy) I’m posting this tablet recipe which I blogged about nearly three years ago now. Since then I’ve adapted the recipe a bit. My mother’s hand-written recipe just says – a tin of condensed milk and doesn’t specify the size and I have experimented and decided that it works just as well with half a large tin or 1 small tin of condensed milk. Also I recently bought a sugar thermometer which only cost £6 but makes sweetie making so much easier. If you have one then you should turn the heat off when the mixture reaches the soft ball mark on the thermometer. Then add a drop of vanilla extract and beat with a wooden spoon as usual. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer you can still make tablet following the instructions below.

Swiss Milk Tablet

The photo above is of the tablet I made a while ago, you might want to cut your pieces smaller, my mum made small bite sized cubes. I made two batches recently, one with ordinary white sugar and the other with 1 lb of white and 1 lb of dark muscavado sugar. This makes it quite black treacly in flavour. Next time I’m going to try demerara sugar. I’ll put a new photo on soon.

Scottish Tablet (originally posted in February 2010)

This recipe has been handed down in my family for at least four generations. It is unbelievably sweet but at the same time very more-ish. So, if you are keen to hold on to your teeth, keep this recipe for high days and holidays only.

2lb sugar
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 large (397g) tin of condensed milk (or half of it for the healthier option)!!
drop of vanilla extract

Put the sugar, butter and cup of milk into a large heavy-based pot and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved and then bring the mixture to a good ‘rolling’ boil.

It is important that you use something like a large soup pot as you really don’t want this mixture boiling over on to your hob.

Pour the condensed milk into the pot and stir carefully. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and allow the mixture to come to the boil again. Don’t stir it.

Have a cup of cold water ready for testing the tablet. The amount of boiling time required before getting to the testing point is a bit of a guessing game, but with practice you will know just by looking at the mixture as it will have turned slightly darker and be thicker in consistency. It takes about 15 minutes to get to this stage on my hob, it’s called the soft ball stage, but as you can imagine it will vary greatly, depending on your hob and the type of pot used. I use an old aluminium soup pot.

Carefully scoop a teaspoonful of the mixture out of the pot and dip it into the cup of water. Leave for a few seconds and test for toffeeish consistency (not quite dripping off.) Repeat this if necessary until the mixture is at this stage.

Then turn off the heat and add the drop of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture with the wooden spoon. Be careful not to splash any of it on to you. Keep beating until you feel the consistency changing. It should feel heavier and thicker and you will feel the spoon ‘catching’ on the base.

Very carefully, pour the tablet into a non stick baking tray. Mine is 11 inches long and 7 inches wide and about 2 inches deep. This is really a two person job. One to hold the pot, while the other scrapes. Allow to cool and set slightly before marking into squares.

Watch how quickly it disappears. Be amazed by how fast you can put on weight. And fingers crossed that you don’t need any fillings when you next visit the dentist.

14 thoughts on “Scottish Tablet/ Swiss Milk Tablet

    • Peggy Ann,
      It’s only the tablet in me which is keeping me sweet! You can play around with this recipe and substitute different sugar, golden syrup, more butter or whatever. The important thing is to get it to the correct temperature, if it gets too hot you end up with toffee.

  1. I just bought raw peanuts to make peanut brittle and marshmallow fluff to make fudge – now I’m thinking I need to go to the store again 🙂 I’m wondering if this would taste like penuche, a brown sugar candy with the texture of fudge (no chocolate in it) – or is it more like caramel?

    • Lisa,
      I’ve been meaning to make peanut brittle for ages as that is my brother’s favourite. Tablet is more like fudge but it melts in your mouth without having to chew it. I don’t know penuche at all, it sounds lovely.

  2. What, I ask, is a “tablet”? (I thought it was either something you take for a headache, or an iPad-type computer.) From the photo, I’m thinking maybe a type of fudge? :-b

    I love how our common language has its differences, especially on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

    • Debbie,
      I think the word tablet used to be used more. It means a small flat piece of something, sometimes soap was described as ‘ a tablet of soap’ and I’ve seen in old books people mentioning a ‘writing tablet’ meaning a writing pad. So the computer tablet is just going back to the old use of the word really.

      I love language differences too, it fascinates me that people in the US still use what we regard as really old fashioned words like ‘oftentimes’ – which sounds Elizabethan to us as we dropped the ‘times’ bit centuries ago, and ‘faucet/fawcet’ when we say tap, and do people in the US really say ‘nightstand’ meaning a bedside table!

      • Kat – now that you mention it, I remember ‘writing tablets’ from my childhood. There’s Canada for you – straddling the linebut changing.

        When I was a kid we always said ‘tap’ and ‘chesterfield’ but now it’s nearly always ‘faucet’ & ‘couch’ or ‘sofa’. Lots of other examples too.

        Canada was still quite Anglo-Saxon 55 years ago, despite the waves of Italians, Portuguese, Scandinavians, etc. The predominant culture (outside of Quebec which is a whole other story) was still British. How things have changed – and the language reflects it!

        • Debbie,
          It’s much the same here. We always used to say ‘couch’ or ‘settee’ but it’s always ‘sofa’ now. I’ve heard that there are some places in New Zealand which are more Scottish than Sotland, it’s funny the way people who have moved somewhere end up keeping the traditions going longer than the original inhabitants do.

          Quebec is a mystery to me. If they are so keen on being French I don’t know why they don’t go there to live. What a culture shock that would be for them, I bet they would hate it. The French would certainly hate them!

  3. Thanks for the taiblet recipe, Katrina. (Scots for tablet is taiblet. Yes, I know YOU know that, Katrina) I forgot you’d blogged it before! That was before I found your blog!
    I had a piece of the stuff the other day after a friend had made some. Oh yummmmmmm! There’s a sweetie shop along the road that sells even better taiblet! I used to buy it often, but after teeth problems and being diagnosed diabetic, I had to cut down on the stuff! I must try my hand at making it though.

    • Evee,
      No, I didn’t know it is taiblet – that one went past me! I didn’t know you are a diabetic, it sounds like you would be dicing with death if you ate taiblet! I made two batches and gave a lot away but have eaten far too much!

    • Margaret Reid,
      You have to simmer it without stirring until it reaches the soft ball stage which on a sugar thermometer is 240 Fahrenheit or 116 degrees Centigrade.
      I hope it turns out well.

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