Last weekend I found myself in the slightly retro experience of finding myself with half a can of evaporated milk needing used up. I haven’t eaten the stuff neat since childhood and even then I never particularly liked the slightly metallic taste. I generally prefer the toffee-ish tones of condensed milk and its sticky sweetness, and as a topping, I always preferred cream, so it seemed for a minute like I’d either be throwing it down the sink or finding out if squirrels like a spot of Carnation.
But then a conversation with a Scottish pal reminded both of us about that peculiarly Scottish delicacy of tablet. Harder than fudge, sweeter than falling in a bag of pure caster sugar after being dipped in syrup and utterly lovely, it seemed like the perfect solution to my evaporated milk* dilemma. I prepared to roll up my sleeves and beat some molten sugar into submission when I discovered that you can magic this sweetmeat up the modern way and do it in the microwave making it perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Tablet is usually served simply. Some even suggest that the addition of vanilla extract is too newfangled, but I’m no stickler for tradition so it seemed like a marvellous idea to add a Scandinavian twist and add some crunch to the tablet in the shape of some crushed up Daim bar. I thought the saltiness of it would work here without just copying the salted caramel trend.
Daim Bar Tablet: makes 24 pieces
- 454g (1lb) granulated sugar
- 142g (5 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
- 113g (4 ounces) butter
- 2 Daim bars, broken up (All Dime bars are now Daim. You don’t have to trek to Ikea I promise!)
Before you get started, make sure you have everything ready. Rushing around hot sugar is not a good idea. Line a square baking tin or dish with tinfoil and make sure you have a very deep dish to make the tablet in. I started off using a Pyrex dish but it wasn’t deep enough and I was constantly opening the door to stop an eruption of sugar everywhere which affected the temperature. I then switched to a deep Tupperware container instead which worked brilliantly.
Once you’ve got your dish sorted, this is the easiest thing to make. Put the butter, sugar and evaporated milk in the dish together and cook in a 800W microwave for 12 minutes, stopping and stirring it about every 2 and a half minutes, keeping an eagle eye on it all. It will thicken and become darker and more butterscotch in colour after that amount of time.
Tablet differs from fudge in that after the sugar has reached the right temperature you beat it to add air to it to obtain its unique granular texture, so beat the mixture with an electric whisk or a wooden spoon for at least two minutes. It will go from sticky to an almost powdery texture that lifts away from the side of the dish in one piece. Add the Daim bar and mix well before pouring into your lined dish.
Mark the tablet into squares of about half an inch. Anything more is too rich to eat in one go. Allow the tablet to set for about an hour. It will be much drier than fudge. Then say you’re only to going to have one piece but manage to eat about four because it’s so good with that little salty sweet crunch and creamy buttery texture. The rest will keep for several weeks in an airtight container for you to dip in and out of as you pass. This is properly no fuss tablet…
*Some people are sceptical that evaporated milk works as well in tablet as condensed milk, but it really does. I’ve also been told that you can halve the ingredients and the cooking time and it works just as well.