I’ve been in turmoil over this particular blog post, unsure whether or not to share a very special family recipe with you. The fact is that my Mum’s Muscovado Tablet is so good that I reckon it could make me millions. But after much tossing and turning and procrastination, I’ve decided to put a stop to my selfish thoughts and share it with the masses.
For anyone who hasn’t had tablet before, it’s a traditional Scottish sweet consisting of sugar, sugar and more sugar. Tooth-meltingly sweet, with a much grainier texture than fudge, it’s widely served up as a complementary side when you order a tea or coffee in any half-decent restaurant, cafe or tearoom across the country.
Many years ago now, my mum decided to road test a Nigel Slater recipe for Muscovado Fudge which appeared in an antiquated issue of Sainsbury’s Magazine. The rich molasses flavour imparted by this sticky, unrefined sugar delivered a scrumptious twist to the standard fudge recipe and – in a stroke of genius – my very clever mother realised how to make it even better: adapt it for tablet!
Her recipe isn’t an exact science but requires a bit of sensory observation. It is, however, well worth the effort and if it ends up a little softer or a little harder than you intended, I can guarantee it will still taste incredible. What’s more, you’ll have a great excuse to keep practicing and get started on another batch! One instrument you will require to guide you, though, is a sugar thermometer.
500g light muscovado sugar
500g golden caster sugar
300ml evaporated milk
150g unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
- Put all of the ingredients except the vanilla into a large, heavy-bottomed pan and heat gently. Keep stirring to ensure the melting ingredients don’t burn onto the bottom of the pan.
- Once dissolved, place the sugar thermometer in the pan. Continue to stir the mixture constantly – for up to 30 minutes – until the thermometer reaches the ‘soft ball‘ stage. You can test this by dropping a blob of the mixture into a bowl of cold water. Rolling it between your fingers, if it literally forms a soft ball it’s ready to come off the heat. Stir through the vanilla extract.
- I’d recommend using an electric hand mixer if you don’t want your arm to turn to stone during this next stage. Begin beating the mixture evenly and watch as it expands in volume, turning from glossy and smooth to a more matt and grainy texture. It’s ready when the ripples created by the beaters hold their form for a few seconds.
- Pour into a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. The surface will be uneven and swirly, giving it a rustic, rough-around-the-edges Scots charm. After ten minutes or so, cut into bite-size squares with a knife and leave to cool entirely before removing from the tray.
The last piece of advice I can offer you is to divide it up into cellophane bags tied with ribbon and distribute it to your friends and family ASAP! They’ll be over the moon when they taste it and you won’t be three stone heavier and toothless.