Scottish Food Analysis: Tablet Review

H’s mum T, myself and H were having a conversation about something or other, and tablet came up. “Tablet?”, H queried.

T and I hastened to try to explain what tablet was. If you’ve never come across it before, it’s a traditional Scottish sweet normally made from sugar, condensed milk and butter, which has a firm texture, like Kendal mint cake. It isn’t chewy like toffee or soft like fudge, but has a similar caramel taste.

When we saw some tablet for sale the next week in the supermarket, T picked up a bar, and then at a later stop on our trip, bought another for comparison. Things spiralled from there.

tablet

Eight varieties of tablet, some sugar highs and much teeth-brushing later, we’d almost had enough of a good thing. I’ve documented our discoveries for you, but this just encompasses a tiny area and a few shops – I can only imagine how many more bars of tablet there are across the whole of Scotland!

Scores are based on which we liked best, which is not necessarily the same as which is the best example of tablet. The results are listed in the order in which we tried the different types.

1. Scottish Tablet, Lees’ of Scotland = 17/30

Lees' tablet

Purchased from: an Ayrshire supermarket

We started with this readily-available tablet. I was surprised how pale it was, and the texture was very soft, almost fudge-like. It was sweet, but lacking the strong caramel note I was hoping for. H thought the texture was pleasing, but I wanted something a bit firmer.

J = 5/10; H = 7/10; T = 5/10

2. Vanilla Tablet, Victor James = 22/30

Victor James vanilla tablet

Purchased from: Dobbies Garden World, Ayr

This was firmer than the previous tablet, but not too hard. It had a lovely rich caramel taste, and as T commented, it had the expected firmness for tablet. H was not so keen on the hardness, but he agreed that the flavour was good.

J = 8/10; H = 6/10; T = 8/10

3. Luxury Handmade Tablet, Electric Bakery, Isle of Bute = 19/30

Electric Bakery tablet

Purchased from: Mearns T McCaskie, Wemyss Bay

This divided our tasters. T and I both found it sandy, as if the sugar had not dissolved. H, on the other hand, liked the softness and the flavour.

J = 6/10; H = 7/10; T = 6/10

4. Vanilla Butter Tablet, Gordon and Durward = 18/30

Gordon and Durward tablet

Purchased from: Sugar and Spice, Largs

This solid block was the hardest of all the tablets we tried. Because it was so thick, it was a challenge to eat. We all found too firm, although the taste was good and T thought it was the most like tablet should be.

J = 6/10; H = 6/10; T = 6/10

5. Fencebay Tablet, Fencebay = 16/30

Fencebay tablet

Purchased from: Fencebay Farm Shop, Fairlie

This was the least popular of all the tablets we tried, although still pleasant. It was sweet but bland-tasting, and had a grainy sandy texture. I plan to use the rest up as part of a dessert (maybe chopped up in a cake), where I think it will work admirably.

J = 5/10; H = 5/10; T = 6/10

6. Tablet, Cameron Confections = 26/30

Cameron Confections tablet

Purchased from: Sugar and Spice, Largs

This just squeaked ahead of the ginger tablet (below) as the winner! It had the most marvellous toffee caramel taste, and was a little firm but still soft. Perhaps not as hard as a typical tablet should be, but delicious!

J = 9/10; H = 9/10; T = 8/10

7. Ginger Butter Tablet, Victor James = 25/30

Victor James ginger tablet

Purchased from: Sugar and Spice, Largs

We also tried the ginger version of the Victor James tablet. This was a wonderful blend of fiery ginger softened by the sweetness of the tablet. Very popular with everyone.

J = 8/10; H = 8/10; T = 9/10

8. Vanilla Traditional Handmade Tablet, Tilly Confectionery = 22/30

Mrs Tilly's tablet

Purchased from: an Ayrshire supermarket

This got similar reviews to the vanilla Victor James tablet. Firm, sweet and a nice caramel taste.

J = 8/10; H = 6/10; T = 8/10

After all that, I’m still a fan of tablet, albeit in moderation. It is eye-wateringly sweet, and soon becomes sickly, but it tastes delicious and is a very different beast to toffee and fudge.

I plan to try making my own sometime soon. Watch this space…

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Disclaimer: Please note neither I nor any of the reviewers are in any way affiliated with any of the manufacturers of these products and this article reflects our personal opinions only.

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