- Food & Drink
It’s Burn’s Night on the 25th and the traditional way to honour this Romantic poet is to stuff a load of sheep off-cuts into the benighted animal’s stomach and then boil it. Personally, if I was a leviathan of Scottish poetry, I’d want to be remembered with something a bit more sumptuous than a big round offal sausage, but then I’m a decadent Englishwoman. The dour modesty of the Highlands and Lowlands hasn’t shaped my appetites (although I’ll admit to liking haggis when the wind whistles and the mash is buttered).
Instead, I thought I’d latch onto something different. Something that isn’t deep fried (an obvious and cheap shot) or based on Buckfast (topical, but tastes like satanic pond water). I’m a sugar fiend, so it has to be tablet.
Tablet is easier to make than fudge or toffee because it’s supposed to be grainy and crumbly, a consistency I can normally achieve whenever I’m making sweets. Traditionally it’s either not flavoured or has a spoonful of vanilla extract added at the end, but I have a pack of smoked sea salt in the cupboard and I couldn’t resist adding it in honour of Scotland’s famously heart attack inducing lifestyle. Sugary, salty, smokey and buttery – it’s a litany of food sins to make your mouth water.
Smoky salted tablet
1kg caster sugar
130ml whole milk
397g tin condensed milk
100g butter, chopped, plus extra for greasing
2–3 tsp smoked sea salt
1 Thickly grease a 20cm cake tin with butter and set aside. Place the sugar and milk in a large pan and stir to wet the sugar with the milk. Add the condensed milk and butter and place over a medium heat.
2 Heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it comes to the boil – about 10–15 minutes. You’ll probably see little brown patches appearing, this is the sugar caramelising. Keep stirring to make sure the sugar doesn’t catch and burn and ruin your pan.
3 Once the tablet has come to the boil, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, stirring very frequently, for 20–30 minutes until it’s a rich brown colour. Don’t leave the pan because it catches and burns easily. You can check it’s ready by sticking a teaspoonful in a glass of cold water. If it forms a smooth ball, then it’s ready to go.
4 Remove from the heat and beat in 1–2 tsp smoked sea salt. 1 tsp gives it a lingering salty aftertaste, 2 tsp gives it a much stronger seaside flavour. I used 1 tsp. Scrape the tablet mixture into the prepared tin and smooth with the back of a spoon. You can sprinkle another tsp of smoked salt over the tablet for a bit of extra salty crunch. It will firm up after a couple of minutes. Slice it into bite-size chunks and then leave to set overnight. To serve, tip out of the tin and chop into the chunks.