Two recipes – the first is simple and easy, the second takes a long while of standing and stirring. Both are very more-ish!
My microwave is 800W. Reduce final time by 10 sec for 850W, and adjust other powers.
Prepare a shallow metal tray, about 7” x 10” (18cm x 25cm) ideally by lining it smoothly with foil. Or use a silicon tray which won’t need preparation – the temperature will be under 230°C (soft ball stage) when it goes into the tray – and sit it on a metal tray for support.
Have your electric hand mixer ready, or a wooden spoon.
Take a large (eg 2.5 litre) microwave-safe dish (not plastic) and put in all the ingredients and stir them together. (With some microwaves, you can program both times at once, with a useful beep to tell you when to take it out, which is what I do. But do time it accurately!)
- Microwave on high for 7 min. Remove, stir quickly and return.
- Microwave on high for 5 min 40 seconds.
Remove bowl from microwave and put on a folded tea towel or other surface protection. Beat with the electric mixer for 2¼ minutes (or with a wooden spoon for somewhat longer) until the mixture begins to firm up a little, and the bottom of the bowl is visible for a couple seconds, signifying the start of crystallisation. If you don’t do it long enough, your tablet won’t be crisp. If you do it too long, it will solidify in your bowl before you spread it out!
Quickly scrape the mixture out into the prepared tray and spread until even. After a couple minutes, you might want to deeply mark the major divisions – 6 sections are about 100g each – and a few minutes later you can lightly score the smaller pieces. Leave to cool and solidify before breaking up. As it cools, crinkley pale lines will form on it, spidering across the surface, indicating you have got the crystallisation working. You can put it in the fridge after half an hour, or somewhere cool, to hasten the cooling.
Once you’ve got the hang of this recipe, it’s super quick and easy, and such a relief to not stand over the hob stirring for half an hour or more!
Scots tablet – traditional recipe
Melt the butter in a LARGE saucepan, add the condensed milk, and use the condensed milk tin to measure out the milk or cream. Add the sugar and bring it gently to the boil over a moderate heat, stirring CONSTANTLY (it burns VERY easily), and stand over it as it simmers, continuing to stir constantly, and cook until it’s a nice golden brown like oiled cedar, or cherry. Lighter means softer and sweeter, darker means firmer and more flavour. About 15 to 20 min, I think.
Remove from the heat. As it cools, continue to stir, scraping the mixture off the sides of the pan and stirring it into the main mass. It will start to thicken as you do this. When you can scrape the spoon across the bottom of the pan and see metal for a second or so, it’s ready to pour.
Pour it into a foil-lined tray to cool, but DO NOT scrape the pan – the stuff clinging to the pan will have a different texture. !! Remember it’s VERY hot – hotter than boiling !!
However, waste-not, want-not …. scrape what’s left in the pan onto a spare piece of foil to cool. It’ll be edible and very nice, but not as even as the main tray. Cook’s perks!
As it cools, crinkly pale lines will form on it, spidering across the surface. Leave it for several hours to set. It can then be either broken up or cut up. Scoring lines on it while it’s warm may make it easier to cut/break when it’s cool, if you want to be very tidy.
* Try normal milk and full cream condensed milk to start with, but experiment with skimmed condensed milk, lo-fat cream, full cream, etc if you want. They will all ‘work’, but will yield different textures and flavour variations. I like using milk rather than cream, which is more crisp.