Monday, 30 June 2014

Vanilla Scots Tablet

I have recently been spending so much time hanging out with my new pash (which is ice-cream, if you haven't noticed already) that I've been neglecting my other fields of confectionery expertise; and while packing to moving into my new house, I was reacquainted with my sugar thermometer.

Even though the thermometer itself is banjaxed and I could seriously do with getting a new one, it put my mind back in the frame of sugarcraft. So I though of something I could make.

When I worked in Thorntons they sold bags of butter tablet, which is a kind of crumbly butter sweet somewhere between fudge and hard toffee. It has the texture of a Kendal Mint Cake, if you've ever eaten on of those. It's delicious and melts in the mouth way too easily to maintain any sense of decent portion control.

I used to make a recipe for vanilla fudge from a cookery book when I was little which in retrospect was more like tablet than fudge, and the basic difference is only how long you beat it and how soon after cooking you beat it. Tablet it brittle and grainy because the sugar is agitated more leading to more solid crystalisation.

Tablet looks nice if broken into pieces by hand, sort of rustically like shown. It you want, you can score it into pieces before it's fully set so it snaps easily into little squares.

So, less talk more cooking!

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Gluten
☑ Wheat
☑ Eggs
☑ Nuts

☒ Dairy
☒ Refined sugar products

This is a large quantity that will make about 1¼ pounds (570 grammes) of fudge, but I've found it can be easily halved or even quartered. Just be really careful when making small batches because it can burn or crystallise easily.
  • 1 pound (450 grammes) caster sugar
  • 4 fluid ounces (115 millilitres) milk
  • 4 ounces (115 grammes) butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) of vanilla essence

  • Prepare an 8 inch (20 centimeter) square tin by either greasing it lightly or lining it with non-stick baking paper. You could also use a silicone baking tin, which needs no greasing or lining.
  • In a heavy-based large saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted.
  • Pour the sugar into the middle of the pan so that it forms a little mountain in the middle, then gently bring in the milk mixture from the edges. Your aim here is to get as little sugar as possible on the edges of the pan, as this can cause your fudge to go grainy.
  • Stir the mixture over medium-low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Using a pastry brush dipped in hot water, wash the sugar crystals from the side of the pan. Alternatively, you can just pop the lid on the pan for a minute to allow the steam to wash it all away instead.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved and there is no evidence of sugar crystals left, bring the mixture to the boil and once boiling clip a sugar thermometre to the side of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the whole thing reaches 118°C (245°F).
  • At this point, unlike fudge where you don't stir at all on pain of hard crumbly fudge, you keep stirring every so often.
  • While the fudge is cooking, fill your sink or wash basin with about 2 inches (5 centimetres) of cold water.
  • Once the fudge has reached temperature, take the pan from the heat and dip the bottom in the cold water to stop cooking immediately.
  • Add the vanilla essence and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until creamy and opaque. Move quickly! Unlike soft fudge, it WILL seize into a completely solid mass if you don't pour it into the container as soon as it turns opaque.
  • Pour into your prepared tin and allow to cool at room temperature overnight.

I like the dotted effect that the vanilla pod leaves! I actually made some vanilla sugar by dumping a vanilla pod whose seeds I'd used in my stracciatella ice-cream into a jar of caster sugar. The vanilla pod fascination continues...

THIS TIME LASTE YEAR: Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

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