the Kitchen on the Kelvin

Recipes, news and reviews from my cubby-hole of a kitchen on banks of the River Kelvin, Glasgow


Sshhh! Don’t tell your dentist: Mum’s Muscovado Tablet

Muscovado tablet: a delicious twist on a Scottish favourite

Mum’s muscovado tablet: a most satisfying twist on a Scottish classic

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

    Boiling sugar: treat with caution

    Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble: stir with caution!

  3. 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.

    Beating will thicken the mixture and turn it from glossy to a silken, grainy appearance

    Beating will thicken the mixture and turn it from glossy to matt with a grainy appearance on close inspection

  4. 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.

    After allowing the tablet to cool for 10 minutes in the tray, cut into bite-size pieces

    A sweet, crumbly and incredibly moreish treat; perfect with a cup of coffee

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.



The most moist Easter chocolate fudge cake

Writing about food is something that I’ve thought about for too long, but somehow there was always something standing in my way – until now, that is. Just last week, the final hurdle between me writing and you reading this was overcome as a shiny, new, functioning oven was installed in the cubby-hole I call my kitchen.

From the moment I met my former oven, we didn’t get on. Droning and loud with a temperamental thermostat, I couldn’t bear the thought of posting photos of cremated cakes for the world to see; even the mighty powers of Instagram couldn’t hide the char. I am most definitely ashamed to admit that at my very lowest point I plunged to the murky depths of microwaving a Victoria sponge sandwich in order to cook the eggy ooze outpouring from a crusty, black shell. Knowing that I’d crossed a terrible, terrible line, I abandoned baking for months.

Now, however, I’m free to resign that sad saga to history. But what foodie marvel could justify my debut blog post from the Kitchen on the Kelvin? I quickly concluded that it had to be something season-appropriate and, as an agnostic Scot, Easter means only one thing – CHOCOLATE.

The manic expressions on the faces of these fuzzy chicks can't fail to bring a bit of springtime fun

The manic expressions on the faces of these fuzzy chicks can’t fail to bring a bit of springtime fun

The recipe for these chocolate fudge sponges and cupcakes was tweaked from the BBC Good Food’s highly rated Naughty Chocolate Fudge Cake – I felt compelled to drop the ‘naughty’ – although I’ve swapped their chocolate buttercream for a more intense, grown-up ganache.

The cake recipe itself is unrivalled, though. The use of oil instead of butter leaves it scrumptiously moist and the all-in-one method makes it almost foolproof.

Ideally, I’d have topped these with speckled Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, but after hopelessly searching the shelves of supermarkets and newsagents for more than 90 minutes, I was forced to accept that I should probably be spending my time attending to more pressing and important tasks like picking up my dry-cleaning and going to the Post Office. I settled for Cadbury’s Flake dust and some inedible fuzzy chicks to add a much-needed injection of colour.

The use of oil instead of butter makes this cake scrumptiously moist and light, too

The use of oil instead of butter makes this cake scrumptiously moist and light, too


For the cake:

[This deeply filled two mini 11.5cm sandwich tins and six generously-sized cupcake cases but would equally suit two standard 18cm/7″ sandwich tins]

175g self-raising flour

2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g caster sugar

2 medium eggs, beaten

150ml (1/4 pint) sunflower or vegetable oil

150ml (1/4 pint) semi-skimmed milk [I’d use whole milk if I had it handy]

2 tbsp golden syrup

For the ganache:

[These quantities left me with a ramekin-full left over – perfect heated up and poured over ice cream for a satisfying and instant mid-week dessert]

150ml double cream

150g good quality dark chocolate [or substitute half for milk chocolate to lessen the cocoa intensity for kids/adult wimps like my boyfriend]


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°c (160° fan) or gas mark 4 and grease and line your tins.
  2. Sieve the flour, cocoa and bicarb and add the caster sugar. Mix well.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and add the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth with an electric freestanding or hand mixer – unless you’re looking to build biceps.
  4. Pour into your tins or cupcake cases – the batter will be quite wet – and place in the oven. Leave until risen and firm to the touch. The cupcakes should only take around 15 mins while the sandwich tins will be ready in 25 – 30 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.
  6. You can start on the ganache right away if you wish as it requires an hour or two to cool. Add the cream and broken up chocolate to a pan on a very low heat and stir gently until the chocolate is melted.
  7. Remove from the heat and beat until smooth and glossy. It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  8. I levelled off the rise on each sandwich with a sharp knife – allowing me the benefit of a sneaky taste test – before spreading on the ganache with a flat-edged pallet knife. Sprinkle with Flake dust created by venting your pent-up anger on a sealed Flake with a rolling pin. And if you’re lucky enough to source Mini Eggs – where did you get them!? – they’ll add an unmistakable Easter charm.