Emma Joseph meets award-winning chocolatier Kerry Witt, a perfectionist who is constantly dreaming up new recipes for her mouthwatering concoctions

Blackcurrant and star anise; orange marmalade and Glenfiddich whisky; Lapsang Souchong and apricot – the flavours are certainly unique when it comes to chocolate.

But that’s exactly the aim of award-winning chocolatier Kerry Witt, whose business, Chocolate by Miss Witt, has built up a formidable reputation in the five years since its creation.

The amazing aromas emanating from the tiny workshop in Sway where Kerry dreams up her unique ideas simply do not do justice to the mouthwatering flavours of her creations.

I try a delicate lime and gin chocolate, and a delicious sea salt and caramel and, as Kerry explains the process which sees her ideas become reality, it’s clear there is a huge amount of thought behind everything she does.

One thing which makes Kerry unique is that, despite her pastry chef roots, she shuns traditional cream in favour of mineral water when it comes to her recipes.

“I often found that when I used cream with different types of chocolate, it masked the true flavour,” she explains, “I wanted more of a clean and pure flavour.

“I’m also really passionate about the chocolate I use. I know exactly where the chocolate comes from. My friend in Ecuador, I use some of hers. I also buy chocolate from Colombia because I know the farmer.”

She’s clearly passionate about what she does and she certainly has the expertise behind her. Growing up making cakes and peppermint creams at home in New Milton with her mum, Kerry went on to attend catering college in Brockenhurst, then completed her pastry chef qualifications in Southampton.

She has worked at Le Poussin in Brockenhurst, where local chef Alex Aitken gained a Michelin star, as well as at Splinters in Christchurch and Carey’s Manor, also in Brockenhurst.

Kerry also spent time at the Bluebird in Chelsea, working alongside Masterchef judge John Torode, and at one of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants in London, before she decided to travel the world, coming back to settle in her beloved New Milton five years ago.

“My friend was setting up her jam company, and one of her customers, from a B&B, said it would be really nice to have a new, fresh chocolatier in the forest.

“I wanted to get back doing something for myself, and I thought ‘that’s what I’m going to do’. I had my skills as a pastry chef, but I wanted to do something completely different.”

Kerry came up with her first range of flavours and began selling them at Lymington Market, then approached local hotels with her creations. She came up with four bespoke chocolates for the Captain’s Club Hotel, including lavender and sea salt and strawberry and vanilla. She supplies Carey’s Manor with coffee brittle and has just started working on some unique flavours for the Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch.

“I’m still always evolving,” she enthuses.

“At the moment we’ve got five collections, including sea salt caramels and a Grand Cru collection. In the last year I’ve been doing chocolate workshops, which I really enjoy as it’s nice to see people achieve. I’m just in the process of setting up my online shop, and I want to do some chocolate menus.”

One of Kerry’s strengths stems from her collaboration with the bar industry, in which she also boasts a career as a cocktail judge.

“I’m working with Pothecary Gin and designing chocolates made with botanicals of their gin to complement their brand,” she explains.

“I’ve also designed Conker Gin chocolates and I’ve worked with James Fowler at the Larder House in Southbourne to design some chocolates to go with a whisky he was doing.”

Kerry worked alongside James and his staff to create a chocolate high ball glass for a prestigious cocktail competition several years ago, and it was also her foray into the bar industry which led to her very own accolade more recently.

“Last year I entered the world-renowned Academy of Chocolate, London. In 2016 I received silver and bronze medals and last year I got two bronze and a silver.

“I was the only UK female chocolatier to receive a silver medal in the alcohol category, out of 35 countries, for my prune and Armagnac chocolate,” she says proudly.

From mixing peppermint creams in her mum’s kitchen as a child, to winning world-renowned awards, it’s clear Kerry has found her niche. And she shows no signs ofslowing down any time soon.

“I’m still dreaming up recipes,” she smiles.

“I still love it as it still makes me tick.”

T: 07855 787638

W: www.chocolatebymisswitt.com