Cranberry and vanilla tablet

Serves: Makes about 55 squares - Time:

Cranberry and vanilla tablet
Cranberry and vanilla tablet Cranberry and vanilla tablet

For those who are strangers to this marvellous Scottish treat let me explain tablet to you. It is a grainy, melt in the mouth, superior (IMHO) cousin to fudge. It is not tricky to make but the stages need to be followed carefully. It is awfully difficult to give exact timings as no two simmering points will be the same. I find a sugar thermometer invaluable for hitting the correct time to take the saucepan off the heat and beat merry hell out of the mixture. On which point, you can do this by hand but it is hard work and an electric whisk cuts the beating time by half. I have injected an air of festive spirit by adding some dried cranberries but you could leave them out if you want a plain tablet. I suggest giving most of it away as presents –your dentist and doctor will thank you for sharing the love and thus avoiding mass cavities and diabetes.


  • 100g salted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 1 kg golden caster sugar
  • 397g tin condensed milk
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cranberry and vanilla tablet


  1. Grease and line a rectangular tin, about 30 x 20 cm, with non-stick baking parchment. Put the butter and milk in a large, heavy-based saucepan and slowly melt the butter. As the liquid comes up to the boil, slowly pour in the sugar. Stir over a moderate to low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. You can feel and hear if the mixture is still grainy.
  2. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring every now and again. Turn the heat down to moderate and stir in the condensed milk. Bring back to the boil, stirring to prevent the mixture from catching on the base of the saucepan. Allow the tablet mixture to bubble for about 8-10 minutes until you reach soft-ball stage (when a spoonful of the mixture is dropped into a bowl of cold water and sets to a soft ball straight away) or if you have a sugar thermometer, 118˚c.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the cranberries and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture-ideally with an electric whisk- for about 4-5 minutes until the mixture is on the point of setting. You can feel the whisk starting to labour at this point and the mixture almost leaves a trail.
  4. Working quickly, pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth to the edges. Leave to cool until firm but not completely hard and cut into small squares. Leave to harden then lift out of the tin. 
Cranberry and vanilla tablet