Creamy Vanilla Fudge & A Village Christmas Party

by Elizabeth Atia -

When I first moved to rural Shetland, in the late Autumn, it was just two weeks before my second child was born. I knew no one, having moved from Lerwick where all my friends were.

One month later we were invited along to the village Christmas party in the local hall. Nothing had prepared me for what I was to experience there - such a welcoming atmosphere, so many parents and children, gorgeous home bakes, teas and coffees and best of all... an appearance by Santa himself!

Just imagine my surprise when my young daughter's name was called by Santa's Helper to receive a gift from jolly Old Saint Nick himself! My heart swelled!

All over Shetland, every Christmas, villagers get together like this in their local halls. Volunteers are busy in the hall kitchens baking, preparing both sweet and savoury snacks, salt beef bannocks and teas and coffees.

I can't speak for how the other villages organize their parties, but having been on the Christmas party rota twice now for my own village, I can tell you a bit about ours. Each year, four or five parents volunteer to organize the event - with planning occurring several months in advance. A list of all the children in the area is made, and the shopping begins - an age appropriate gift is selected and wrapped for each child, for delivery by Santa Claus himself. No one is missed.

The party is paid for from the small fee charged for adults and secondary bairns to get into both the Christmas and Halloween parties, from fund-raisers throughout the year, from the sale of raffle tickets and from a generous donation from our local charity shop.

The parents organize games for the children to play while they are waiting for Santa to arrive and kitchen volunteers patrol the hall serving heaped trays of food and drink to everyone.

Raffle items are donated by parents, and as we all finish up our teas and home bakes, the raffle ticket winners are called. My youngest was chuffed to bits to have won a box of chocolates with his raffle ticket.

Then, once the raffle is over, all the children gather in the centre of the hall floor and sing their hearts out. Santa won't arrive unless he can hear the children singing; they have to sing loud! The sound of a jingle bell in the distance announces that he has arrived. Santa takes his place at the front of the hall and one by one each child's name is called out by Santa's helpers, and they accept their gift and an orange from him.

One of the most popular sweets at our Christmas party this year was a delicious creamy vanilla fudge made by the talented Mrs. Julie Odie. Many people were asking for her recipe, and the kitchen volunteers weren't sure if much of the fudge would make it out of the kitchen to the party guests as it was that good!

Well, I obtained this recipe, with many thanks from Mrs. Odie, and she gave permission for me to share it with you all.

Creamy Vanilla Fudge

Course: Main

Servings: 36 squares

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

  • Shetland butter - 3 oz
  • White chocolate - 13 oz
  • Light brown sugar - 11 oz
  • Evaporated milk - 170 gram tin
  • White marshmallows - 8 oz
  • Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
  • Salt - pinch
  1. Grease an 8" square tin and set aside.
  2. Chop your white chocolate finely.
  3. Put butter, sugar, evaporated milk and salt into a large pan and heat gently - Stirling occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Then stir in the marshmallows and turn up the heat (but don't let it boil at this point) stirring until the marshmallows have melted (8-10mins).
  5. Bring the mixture up to the boil now and bubble for 5-10 mins, stir frequently until the mixture darkens to a medium caramel colour and thickens slightly, then take it off the heat and stir in your vanilla and white chocolate - try to do this quickly as it thickens up more at this point.
  6. Place into your greased 8" tin and set aside or in the fridge for at least 3 hours to firm up. When cooled completely, cut into squares and serve.
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