Scottish Tablet and Memories of Childhood

Posted by True Highlands in Scottish Recipes | 6 comments

Maybe it’s a sign of getting old when you start reliving the experiences from your youth. The modern world has its attractions yes, but when they never live up to the memories that exist in your head since childhood then is it time to re-examine them or simply move on? I had an experience like this last year, a fondly remembered treat from my early years which I had dismissed as parochial and unhealthy in my 20s reappeared in middle age. Could it ever be as sweet as I remember?

Tablet is a quintessentially Scottish snack, it’s simple to make and offers instant gratification, a pure sugar indulgence and a throwback to the days before obesity became fashionable. Or is it? I found myself in possession of some recently when out riding around the North Highlands. I had set off for a long day and had counted on picking up food on the way instead of carrying it on the bike. In short, I ended up crawling into a remote petrol station and in the absence of any energy drinks or sports gels ate the tablet on the counter to give me a quick sugar hit. Apart from taking me back 30 years it actually worked wonders as an energy food and now I never cycle without some.

Homemade Tablet

125g salted butter
1kg caster sugar
250ml whole milk
350ml condensed milk

Liberally grease a 25mm deep baking tray. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan (as tall as you have) over a low heat.

Add the milk and sugar and heat on high until the sugar dissolves.

Pour the condensed milk into the mixture, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens, usually about 20 minutes.

When the mixture has thickened it will turn a darkened yellow to light brown colour, and should start to bubble. Take it off the heat, and stir constantly for 10 to 15 minutes at a fast pace until it thickens and starts to turn brown

Pour into the greased tray and leave for 15 minutes to cool enough to cut into bite size pieces. Do this with a sharp knife then leave overnight.

Lick the spoon

And the pan

It’s never going to be healthy, but it gives me a lot of satisfaction to think that what made me happy as a child, can still have the same power as an adult. I would urge anyone heading to the hills to reward their endeavours likewise.

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Comments (6)
  1. fiona cochrane says:


  2. Dorothy Reid says:

    Best to put in a dessert spoonful of syrup too. Helps darken the tablet. Yum yum.

  3. Betty Collier says:

    My nanny put coconut in it for a bit different. Yummy

  4. Opal says:

    Every time Mum went out I would make this tablet, clear away all the evidence so she didn’t know – so I Thought. Great fun and Happy days. All very innocent.

  5. Tina Jack says:

    Not the same without a couple of teaspoons of vanilla essence. Instant memories of childhood.

  6. Patricia Morris says:

    My family has made Oklahoma Brown Candy at Christmas my entire life. The recipe was first published in The Oklahoman as Aunt Bill’s Brown Candy.

    Now it seems that this wonderful sweet originated in Scotland! Anyone else know more of its history?

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