Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Traditional Scottish Tablet Recipe- Vegan, Dairy-Free, Nut-Safe and Gluten-Free

Good evening my tasty hot house tomatoes!

This is something that I've been asked several times for.  Tablet, for those not in the know, is a traditional Scottish sweetie (candy) that is made with sugar, butter and condensed milk.  It's amazing stuff, it really is but it is, as the ingredients suggest, really sweet.

It's not like a chocolate bar in that you would sit and devour a whole bar of it (although I have seen this happen a few times and it's quite impressive) but I wouldn't recommend it.  I've also witnessed friends get a total sugar rush after eating it and become, em, a bit, silly (that's a polite word).

I think the best way to enjoy tablet is after a really nice meal with a cup of coffee.

You have a wee square of tablet with the coffee and just enjoy the creamy but very slightly granular texture and it is wonderful.  But hey, if you can handle that much sugar, eat as much as you think is apprpropriate!  So let's start.

Scottish Vegan Tablet

Ingredients (makes roughly 50 squares)
1 kilo bag caster sugar
150 dairy free spread
About 400ml of homemade dairy-free condensed milk (see below)
150ml (1/4 pt) of your favourite dairy free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Homemade Condensed Milk

This was a trial and error recipe and boy there was a LOT of error.  In America you can buy cans of soya condensed milk and I think that there are shops online where you can have it imported but my goodness it’s so expensive (why is everything so expensive for those with allergies – it sucks!).  So I made it myself a couple of times and although I got there in the end, the results were mixed until I found the best way to condense the soya milk without burning the bottom of my pans (again).

Yes this is time consuming and yes it requires a slow cooker (I heartily recommend you purchase one anyway – you can get a really decent one for less than £18) but it will earn its keep many times over.  The reason that I recommend that you use the slow cooker is because you just can’t get a controlled low heat on a stove top and the slow cooker doesn’t just have one point of heat contact, the soya milk is surrounded by a low heat and therefore the liquid evaporates at a far better rate and doesn’t burn.

You don’t have to use soya by the way, you can have a go with any protein rich dairy free “milk”.  I’ve never tried a coconut or nut based milk but these I imagine would give a different and “nuttier” (do’h) flavour to the tablet.  Hmm, I’m going to have to try that now, that sounds really good actually.  Anyway, I digress.  So you need to start with two litres of your dairy free milk.  Put your slow cooker somewhere it’s out the way and not in direct sunlight or near an open window.  The reason for this is quite simple; you’ll be keeping the LID OFF for the entire process as this will allow evaporation of the liquid.  So pour your milk into the pan and add 150g caster sugar and stir.  Make sure the slow cooker is set on LOW.  Leave the lid off and just wait..... and wait and wait and wait.  I’m not joking when I say that you will be leaving it for about 12 hours, possibly longer depending on the size of your slow cooker.  Every hour or two take a silicon spatula or a wooden spoon and scrape down the sides of the slow cooker and give the mixture a stir.  Over the hours you’ll see the liquid reduce by the marks that it’s leaving on the side as it does down.

After about 12 hours or so the liquid should have reduced right down to about a pint or just under.  If it’s not down at this amount, keep scraping and keep reducing until you get down to just below the pint mark.

Once you’ve got it down to about a pint pour the liquid into a jug or bowl.  Cover with cling film (to avoid it getting a skin on top) and leave it OUT OF THE FRIDGE until it is cool and then put it in the fridge to get cold.  Once it is cold you’ll see that it’s gone all really thick and condensed and fully to sticky unctuousness!

You only need 400ml of this sweet goodness so the rest can either be poured onto ice cream or used in other vegan recipes where condensed milk is called for (vegan dulce de leche anyone?).

Yes this recipe alone does take ages but what you can do is make this recipe in bulk (just doubling the two ingredients) and then once it’s cooled it can be frozen in batches of say 400ml’s (ice cube trays are your friend) and defrosted and used as required. 

Okay so you’ve got your cold homemade vegan condensed milk, let’s make some Trump-safe tablet!

You need a big pot.  No, really, you need a BIG POT.  None of your wee potato pot nonsense.  I use my 10 litre soup pot for this but you could get away with a 5 litre pot at a push.  The reason for this is because the mixture really swells up and bubbles and bursts when it’s boiling and you need the volume so that a) it’s got enough room to expand and b) you don’t get burned! (I talk from experience (*sad face*).

So, in your large deep pot place all ingredients except the vanilla (it will burn if you put it in now) over medium heat until all melts, stirring frequently.

Regularly stir the bottom of your pot to make sure that the mixture isn’t catching or burning in any one particular spot.  Let the mixture simmer for 40 minutes but keep an eye on it.  You’ll notice the colour change after about thirty minutes.  It goes through stages of being a really light creamy beige through to milky tea colour and as the colour deepens it really bubbles and boils.

While it’s bubbling away, get your tin ready.  I use a large baking tin that’s about two inches deep.  You want your finished tablet to be in decent thick-ish chunks so make sure your tin isn’t too large (about 15 x 8 inches is large enough at most).  Get a large piece of baking parchment or greaseproof paper and line the tin.  You don’t have to oil or flour the sides of anything as long as you’re using parchment.

When the colour gets a bit deeper you’ll notice that when you stir it you can see the bottom of the pot and it’s thickened quite a bit.  This usually happens around the forth minute mark but could take more or less time depending on your pot size, so keep an eye on it.  It’s kind of intuitive.  You want it to be a good caramel colour but not too dark that it’s burned, so use your senses.  Does it look and smell like a good tablet colour?  If so, then get it off the heat.

At this point, add the vanilla extra (be careful not to burn yourself!) and, using an electric whisk, beat the mixture making sure you get into the corners of the pot and all over the bottom.  After a few minutes the thickened and aerated mixture just needs to be poured (carefully, this stuff is like lava) into your lined tin. 

Spread the mixture out as evenly as possible and get it right into the corners of the tin.  Leave to cool, out of the fridge, for about ten minutes.  After ten minutes take a large sharp knife and make indentations on the surface where you want the cuts to be.  Don’t cut all the way through; the tablet is still too warm.  All you want to do is define where you want the cuts to ultimately go.  It’s so much easier to then divide into squares if you mark in the lines when it’s hot.  If you leave it to cut when it’s fully cooled it’s a nightmare to get into even pieces and just falls to dust. 

Once you’ve made you lines in the mixture you can either leave it out to fully cool, which takes about an hour or you can put it in the fridge to speed the process up.

Once completely cooled, remove from the tin and divide into individual pieces.

Store in an airtight container for as long as you desire.  The great thing about vegan tablet is that as there is no dairy (and the sugar content is huge) this keeps for ages; however it’ll be eaten long before you ever have to worry about expiration dates.  Yes, it is that good!

So, there you have it.  Tummy safe tasty tablet.  Your tummy (but probably not your waist line) will thank you.

‘til the next time my lovelies, hugs.


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