‘What’s tablet?’. It’s a question that probably every Scot has heard at some point in their lives. It’s a kind of Scottish fudge type thing, but isn’t. It’s just tablet. Then you start to explain the ingredients, and get to condensed milk, and you see the eyes light up! Tablet is something that my Mum made very occasionally at home, from various recipes written down on scraps of paper, stuffed into young mothers pamphlets, and church cookbooks. The way I cook it is a bit of an amalgam of a few of them.
But my tablet memories aren’t from home cooking. They’re from the second weekend of April every year, and the journey home from a small town in the Scottish Borders. Melrose. Every year we would descend, along with thousands of others, for ‘the sports’, the Melrose Sevens rugby tournament on April’s second Saturday. And when the eating, drinking, and rugby had finished, and we packed our bags on the Sunday morning there was time for one last tradition. A visit to the wee ice cream shop across from Priorwood Gardens for a bag of tablet for the sad trip home.
In those days I don’t recall tablet ice cream existing, these days it seems omnipresent and is my kids favourite. But to me this is a little homage to one of my favourite weekends of the year and that beautiful little Border town.
900g granulated sugar
397g tin condensed milk
150ml whole milk
- Put the butter, milk, and sugar in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, boiling on the lowest heat for 15 minutes, stirring regularly;
- Remove from the heat and add the condensed milk, return to the boil and boil on the lowest heat for a further 15 minutes, stirring regularly;
- Remove from the heat and beat hard for 6-8 minutes until it thickens without allowing the sugar to crystallise;
- Turn out into a greased shallow metal tin and leave in the fridge to set a little and cool;
- Score the surface and break into chunks
Tablet ice cream
200ml double cream
300ml whole milk
100g caster sugar
75g tablet plus more for sprinkling
- Mix the cream, milk, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved;
- Break the tablet into small pieces and add to the cream mixture;
- Pour into an ice cream maker and churn for 20-30 minutes until frozen (or place in the freezer in a tub, turning every 30 minutes or so until frozen);
- Serve with tablet pieces on top.