Abby visits The Shetland Fudge Company
by Abby -
I love hot chocolate and if someone asked me, ‘Abby, tell me about the best hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted?’ I wouldn’t hesitate to answer: Ronda, Spain – picture a very citrus orange and brown café – almost like being inside a giant Jaffa Cake, and the creamiest thickest hot choccy I’ve ever tasted. A hot choccy sensation that failed to be matched until…
….Christmas 2015 – Lerwick, and a flourishing business called The Shetland Fudge Company owned by the very welcoming Nicola and Magnus. But we’ll find out more about them later… There are certain people who every year I say, and I’m sure you do too, ‘what on earth shall I buy them for Christmas?’ I now have the answer for this universal Christmas quandary – Shetland Fudge chunky pieces hot choccy (yes, chunky pieces - not that powdery stuff). Ronda definitely no longer holds the top hot choccy spot. Choose from SFC’s hot chocolate with whisky or with Baileys or if you like it without the booze – then buy it alcohol free. No matter – it’s all an amaaaaaazing chocolicious wickedly sumptuous sensation. Believe me, I’ve tested every flavour!
Now, I have to confess I became a bit of a hot choccy nuisance customer last Christmas. I would go into the shop after work and buy a packet or two of their hot chocolate and then promise myself that I would send to friends and family. But the nights were chilly and I’d make a peat fire and I just couldn’t resist - I kept drinking the gifts. Shameful! I then started getting really anxious when Shetland Fudge ran out of hot choc stock and I would ask Nicola if she would put packets aside for me. Finally, I managed to post my sweet gifts, including lavish Raspblootered preserve (seriously yummy homemade Scottish raspberry jam with raspberry vodka). I sent the preserve, amongst other items, in a fab SFC hamper, to a very discerning customer – my mother. She’s not one to enthuse or get excitable, unless she’s had a sherry, and although I love her dearly - I know when she’s not keen on something. She makes this noise from the back of her throat which sounds like a creaking door and then arches a very finely plucked eyebrow and folds her arms over her beige 100% cashmere twinset. So when I asked her ‘how’s the jam mum? She became quite excitable, gave a five star AA Gill-styley review and demanded more to be sent ASAP!
Fast-forward a couple of months and I decided to find out more about The Shetland Fudge Company and I asked Nicola if I could help her out in the SFC kitchen. I know, terrible job! The day I visited I was tired, very tired, however, as soon as I entered this sweet oasis – all my worries seemed to melt away. I put on my pinny, I stirred fudge, I cut fudge, I inhaled fudge, I tempered chocolate, I decorated Peerie Nips (means wee dram): delish ‘shot glass’ chocs containing a variety of liqueurs, and I learnt about their world famous product: Puffin Poo – did you know it’s a seriously time consuming process to hand make each delicious morsel and there’s a Puffin Poo making machine in development?! After all this kitchen action and lots of chit-chat - I felt more rejuvenated and clear headed than an hour practicing Ashtanga yoga with a shot of wheatgrass for afters. So, a BIG thank you to Nicola and Magnus for a wonderfully inspiring couple of hours and let’s find out more about this dynamic duo. C’mon make a cuppa, nibble on some Rum & Raisin Tablet and discover the sweet revolution happening at SFC, as shared by Magnus (with Nicola popping in, when she has a mo)….
Tell me about yourselves….
Magnus: I left school at 15 and went into an apprenticeship with Jim’s Garage and trained as a mechanic. I worked there from 1999-2008, the last two years I was service manager at the then newly opened Ford and Mazda dealership. I left in search of something new and got a job with Blueshell Mussels in Walls as a deckhand/Engineer. I completed my Yachtmaster and various other marine qualifications and after a holiday in Greece sailing, decided that was something I had to try as a job. I left for Greece in 2009 after getting a job with Neilson (Thomas Cook) and spent 3 seasons there, starting as flotilla engineer then flotilla skipper. I also did a season in Sweden as a ski rep, I had never skied or snowboarded before I went but learned quickly. In 2011-2012 I spent 6 months in the Caribbean as a charter skipper before moving home. I had a few short-term jobs before settling at Johnson Marine, where I am still working on a 2/2-week rotation.
Nicola worked for Shetland Fudge part time since she was 14. She went to Glasgow Caledonian and did a business degree before returning to Shetland and working full time as shop manager. She left SFC in 2012 and got a job with Victim Support Scotland, where she was manager for the Shetland and Orkney bases. She was here until we bought the shop in August 2014. Nicola works full time, making all of the chocolates etc, and I work on my two weeks home from my other job. I try to keep up with the paperwork side of things. We currently employ 2 full time, 3 part time and 2 Saturday staff.
…..and your volunteer work in Malawi?
We had the offer of the trip to Malawi to do some volunteer work. We did a lot of fundraising with our small group and visited in 2014. We were very humbled by our experience, and whilst it maybe didn't make us come home and live in a mud hut cooking with a fire made from sticks, it certainly made us aware of the difficulties the people of Malawi face every day. We spent our time there helping in classrooms teaching English and math, by classrooms, it was small buildings with up to 70 or so children sat on the floor reading from what had been painted on the walls by previous volunteers. We did sports with them; they are big into football and netball and run around with no shoes, better than we could with trainers on! We also did ‘Surgeries’ where we went and gave them information about sexual health, oral hygiene and common misperceptions they were led to believe, for example, they believed they could cure diabetes by sprinkling sugar on someone's head. It made us not change how we lived, but work harder so we can hopefully help them again in the future
Nicola, can you tell me about your training with UK World Chocolate Master – Ruth Hinks - one of the top 5 chocolatiers in the world and entrepreneur behind the multi-award winning chocolatier and patisserie, Cocoa Black?
I learned better about how to prepare a selection of chocolate fillings including; caramels, ganaches, truffles and pralines. We also spent a lot of time on handmade chocolates, chocolate bars, chocolate lollipops and moulded chocolate figures. This was paired up with finding out about the origins of chocolate, the bean to bar process, how to temper chocolate and how best to package and store it. I am hoping to get away for the Level 2 course later this year. Ruth was an inspiration to me; she is truly amazing at what she does. Hopefully I will get to the course where you learn to make chocolate figures, and then I can make a life size Magnus...
What makes Shetland Fudge unique?
We use the finest Belgian chocolate we can get, that's the biggest secret to the taste, by using top quality chocolate we get the best taste we can. We also use local produce where we can, Shetland butter, Shetland Reel Gin, Stewart’s rum, etc. We make all of our fudges by hand in small 2 kg batches, fresh every day and our tablet is made the traditional way by hand without any machinery and all our recipes are additive-free. We try to give our products Shetland names such as our preserves, named Jarls breath and simmer dim amongst many more.
Learn more about The Shetland Fudge Company and their awesome owners in the Spring issue of 60N online magazine (out soon) - including the story of how well wishers at their wedding in Italy experienced a taste of Shetland; the man behind the yum Shetland Fudge recipe; the choccy delish kid's parties and how 'she who must be obeyed' became very animated when she received a hamper filled with breakfast preserves... In the meantime, Nicola and Magnus - thank you again for a fab SFC experience, for creating the best hot choccy ever and for those who have a sweet tooth - go indulge in sweet treats via the addicitve SFC online store. Enjoy! x
Posted in: Local Food