image credit: Lady Grizel Baillie
Tablet (taiblet in Scots) is a medium-hard, sugary confection from Scotland. Tablet is usually made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter, which is boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallise. It is often flavoured with vanilla or whisky, and sometimes has nut pieces in it.
According to The Scots Kitchen p.304 by F. Marian McNeill, tablet is first noted in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie in the early 18th century. The traditional recipe uses just sugar and cream. More modern recipes substitute condensed milk and butter for the cream, as it has a tendency to burn when boiled.
Lady Grizel Baillie
Lady Grizel Baillie (née Hume; 25 December 1665 – 6 December 1746) was a Scottish songwriter.
Lady Grizel Baillie’s account books, meticulously kept from 1692 to 1746, reveal information about social life in Scotland in the 18th century. Her entries begin late into her first year of marriage and finish just before her death, and consist of more than a thousand pages of entries. In 1911 the Scottish Historical Society published a 400-page scholarly edition of Lady Grizel Baillie’s accounts, edited by Robert Scott-Moncrieff. This edition focused mainly on the entries from 1692 to 1718, which give extensive details about the early years of the Baillies’ marriage, the births and upbringing of their children and the marriages of their daughters. Historians have cited these accounts to demonstrate cost of goods and to provide evidence for the caloric intake of servants during this period.
In 1692, Lady Grizel married George Baillie, son of Robert. The couple had first met when they were twelve, and supposedly fell in love at that point. What is known for certain is that after returning to Scotland, Lady Grizel turned down the offer to be one of Queen Mary‘s maids of honour, and insisted to her parents on marrying Baillie over a more advantageous match. The couple had two daughters: Grizel (1692–1759), who married British army officer Sir Alexander Murray of Stanhope in 1710; and Rachel (1696–1773), who married Charles Lord Binning in 1717 (and whose son Thomas became the seventh Earl of Haddington). They also had a short-lived son, Robert (23 February 1694 – 28 February 1696). Grizel died in London on 6 December 1746, and was buried at Mellerstain on 25 December, her eighty-first birthday.