Tablet Pistash - Haitian Peanut Candy
A few years ago I had a friend that spent some time in Haiti visiting family. Upon her return she brought me a local treat called tablet pistash. Pistach meaning peanuts. On the way home from the airport I took a bite of the candy and it had such a bright flavor I was in love, but I couldn't place it. It was so familiar and yet I couldn't place it. The candy was somewhere between a praline and penuche with peanuts and that bright flavor that bugged me the whole way home? It was fresh ginger. It was a delicious candy, and while it was definitely sweet it wasn't overly so.
I am also the proud owner of a few Haitian coins for my jar and a cute little banana painted in what she described as a local style of art. It was a magnet but I didn't want to risk something happening to it on my fridge so it's in my library in the cabinet with my trinkets from all over.
As I was discussing tablet pistach with a friend she brought up something I was not familiar with. She was talking of a less delicious, and much more disturbing kind. In Haiti over 80% of the population live below the poverty line. Well, well, below the poverty line. With the majority of the population living in food insecurity some methods of making money and finding ways to fill bellies have been utilized that most of us would ever consider. In Haiti tablet, or mud cookies are not uncommon. Mud is brought down from the mountains and mixed with salt and lard, and sometimes sugar, and spread out to dry into "cookies". The dried cookies are sold, and eaten, to fill empty stomachs. While they keep a starving stomach from rubbing against itself, the mud itself obviously has zero nutritional value. If you want to learn more about this horrible predicament you can read more in this article on The Size. There is an informative video that is just under 5 minutes long and well worth the watch.
This is a great treat to share for this months Improv Cooking Challenge. We were tasked with creating a recipe using ginger and peanuts and I knew it was the time to revamp this post. As I was researching recipes to recreate the treat at home I wasn't able to find one that was similar to the candy I tried so I used my regular praline recipe, with a few changes. They are quite similar, though not exact. Steeping the ginger in the milk first helps increase the flavors, but it's not mandatory.
Improv Cooking Challenge: September 2021
Peanuts and Ginger
- Asian Noodle Salad by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Kung Pao Chicken by Palatable Pastime
- Quinoa Dosa with Peanut Coconut Chutney by Sneha's Recipe
- Minty Tomato Peanut Chutney by Magical Ingredients
- Haitian Tablet Pistach by Pandemonium Noshery
Tablet Pistach Recipe
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
2 inch nub of fresh ginger
2 pinches nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. roasted, lightly salted, peanuts
Scrape the skin off the ginger and minced fine. Heat the condensed milk, butter, and minced ginger in a pan over very low heat. You want to heat it without cooking anything. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 20 minutes.
Add the brown sugar, white sugar, nutmeg, and allspice to the milk and ginger mixture and bring the heat to medium. Stirring constantly, keep cooking until it reaches 220*F. Add the peanuts, and continue stirring, until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage at 239. I like to stop a degree or two short of soft ball. You don't want the heat too high or to cook the mixture too quickly or the sugar will stay grainy and the mixture will cook too quickly.
Remove from the heat and immediately add the vanilla and the peanuts. Keep stirring. The sugar mixture will go from a shiny liquid to cloudy and thick. When the mixture starts to thicken but before it gets stiff spoon it out on to a parchment lined pan. Work quickly, once it starts to cool it sets pretty fast. This should make 14 but I usually get 12 good ones before it's too thick and then the last two aren't as pretty. I eat those.