Pining for the West

Scottish (Swiss Milk) Tablet | July 9, 2009

Scottish Tablet

Scottish Tablet

This recipe has been handed down in my family for at least four generations. It is unbelievably sweet but at the same time very more-ish. So, if you are keen to hold on to your teeth, keep this recipe for high days and holidays only.

2lb sugar
4 oz unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 397g tin of condensed milk
drop of vanilla extract

Put the sugar, butter and cup of milk into a large heavy-based pot and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved and then bring the mixture to a good ‘rolling’ boil.

It is important that you use something like a large soup pot as you really don’t want this mixture boiling over on to your hob.

Pour the condensed milk into the pot and stir carefully. Turn the heat down to the lowest setting and allow the mixture to come to the boil again, stirring now and then.

Have a cup of cold water ready for testing the tablet. The amount of boiling time required before getting to the testing point is a bit of a guessing game, but with practice you will know just by looking at the mixture as it will have turned darker and be thicker in consistency. It takes about 15 minutes to get to this stage on my hob, but as you can imagine it will vary greatly, depending on your hob and the type of pot used. I use an old aluminium soup pot.

Carefully scoop a teaspoonful of the mixture out of the pot and dip it into the cup of water. Leave for a few seconds and test for toffeeish consistency (not quite dripping off.) Repeat this if necessary until the mixture is at this stage.

Then turn off the heat and add the drop of vanilla extract. Beat the mixture with the wooden spoon. Be careful not to splash any of it on to you. Keep beating until you feel the consistency changing. It should feel heavier and thicker and you will feel the spoon ‘catching’ on the base.

Very carefully, pour the tablet into a non stick baking tray. Mine is 11 inches long and 7 inches wide and about 2 inches deep. This is really a two person job. One to hold the pot, while the other scrapes. Allow to cool and set slightly before marking into squares.

Watch how quickly it disappears. Be amazed by how fast you can put on weight. And fingers crossed that you don’t need any fillings when you next visit the dentist.



  1. Hi

    Thanks for the recipe. Do you know if it is the same/similar to the one in the Dundee Cookery Book. I am in Australia at present, visiting my first grandchild. My daughter and her friend both want the recipe I used to make tablet for her wedding last year.

    I have enjoyed reading all you have written. I am not much into computing. Is this what is called blog?

    I live in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire and love it.



    Comment by Lilian — October 3, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

    • Hello Lilian. Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the Dundee Cookery Book, but I think it is probably much the same. You can vary the flavour by using brown sugar instead of white for a more toffee-ish flavour. This is indeed a blog, which I started because I was the only one in my family not blogging and I thought it was a good way of recording things and passing on ‘stuff’ of life. You should try it. I went to Aberdeen once – crazy drivers. Good luck with the tablet making.

      Comment by piningforthewest — October 4, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

      • this is the same as in the Dundee cookery book. I have used it for years and it never fails me.
        I found a copy of the book a few years ago in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. They sell it from a wee shop there.
        Kind regards,

        Comment by charlotte Robertson — April 8, 2012 @ 9:16 am

      • Charlotte,
        Thanks for the info on where to find the book.


        Comment by piningforthewest — April 8, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  2. Is it best to use caster or granulated sugar? I want it to turn out really smooth

    Comment by Victoria — May 27, 2010 @ 10:20 am

    • Hi Victoria, I have only used ordinary granulated sugar or brown before and it is fine as long as you make sure it is all dissolved. Caster would speed it up a bit. Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you. Hope your tablet is good.
      Regards, Katrina.

      PS. I am no longer blogging here, but you can find my blog at

      Comment by piningforthewest — May 27, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  3. Yes it is the one from the Dundee cookery book

    Comment by angela Smart — August 7, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  4. My mom from Glasgow also made this rich and delicious confection now and then. She would add walnuts to cut the sweet. Tastes awesome! 🙂

    Comment by Garry — January 26, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  5. So wonderful to find the recipe my mother made for so many years. I could not quite remember it and was pleased to find it here.
    How could I find the Dundee Cookery book online, I hail from Dundee and am now living in France, would love to read it.
    Off to make the delicious tablet!

    Comment by Susie Somerville — January 27, 2013 @ 11:06 am

  6. I attempted to make Tablet this week,taste was just right but it didn’t set fully.Now getting grainy sugary texture. Where did I go wrong ?
    A Canale

    Comment by A.Canale — February 6, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    • A.Canale,
      A grainy texture usually means that you didn’t dissolve the sugar completely, it takes quite a while for that to happen completely. The other possibility is that you stirred it all after adding the condensed milk and while it was getting to the right temperature. One good stir to mix in the condensed milk is enough then leave it alone until it has reached the soft ball stage, then turn off the heat add in the vanilla and stir like mad until you feel it slightly catching on the base of the pan and thickening. You could put it all back in the pan and boil it up again, but you might end up with toffee.

      Comment by piningforthewest — February 7, 2015 @ 10:42 pm

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