<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Hampshire Life today click here

Pastry chef turned New Forest chocolatier Kerry Witt

PUBLISHED: 15:16 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:16 20 April 2017

Kerry Witt of Chocolate by Miss Witt

Kerry Witt of Chocolate by Miss Witt

Umbala Photography

When it comes to dream jobs, Kerry Witt has hit the naughty but nice jackpot. The pastry chef turned New Forest chocolatier spills the (cacao) beans on her confections to Faith Eckersall

Kerry Witt believes that chocolate is for life, not just for Easter.

“It’s more like having a glass of wine after dark, a treat you should have little and often, like a nice whiskey,” she says. A drink, incidentally, which she insists should always be accompanied by: ‘A really lovely chocolate.’

Of course a woman who spends virtually every waking hour melting, stirring, blending and infusing mankind’s favourite food with an array of exquisite flavours would say this.

But who can argue with the idea of the Miss Witt Lavender and White chocolate bar which so charmed the judges in the Product of the Year category at the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards last year?

Talk to Miss Witt and you are whisked away to a heavenly world of Earl Grey ganache, espresso, Cornish sea-salted caramel, blackcurrant and star anise, and mulberry distillate (being used in her latest collaboration, with Bournemouth-based Pothecary Gin).

There’s more than a whiff of the alchemist about her which, she says, goes right back to when she was aged three and carefully standing on the stool in her mother’s New Milton kitchen, as she made fairy cakes. “I added chocolate drops to make them into polka dot cakes and I can remember being fascinated with the bite you got from it; the softness of the sponge and the sudden crunch,” she says. “Even then there was this texture and taste thing going on.”

After gaining NVQ Levels I and II in hospitality and catering at Brockenhurst College (“I could never wait to get back into the kitchen”) plus the Student of the Year title for Patisserie at Southampton City College, she became pastry chef at Brockenhurst’s Michelin-starred restaurant Le Poussin. She then moved to London to do the same job at the Bluebird in Chelsea.

“Pastry is basically chemistry; you change the way things are with heat and other techniques and the addition of ingredients,” she says. When a friend challenged her to make ‘proper chocolates’ in 2012; “She said the New Forest really needed its own chocolatier,” Kerry had her light-bulb moment and Chocolate by Miss Witt was born.

“Making beautiful things to eat is my true love,” she says. “And I realised that no one would be making chocolates like I do.”

She was right. Because almost no one – until very recently – has ever thought you could successfully make chocolate with water. “Water gives a purity of flavour, whereas cream can dilute that,” she explains. “It’s like the difference between ice cream and sorbet; mango ice cream is really rich and fruity and it is beautiful, but if you have a mango sorbet which has got the pure, intense flavour, it’s completely different.”

All her pastry chef skills came into play as she played around with her ‘couvertures’ – coating chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa butter – and Hampshire’s own Hildon Water because, says Kerry, ‘chocolate and water don’t mix well.’

It took her three months but she cracked it, and now uses her special ganache recipe in a number of delicious confections, including Earl Grey ganache made with white chocolate, and her caramel dark chocolate, which won the Bronze Award from the Academy of Chocolate in 2015 and is her best-seller.

Other flavours followed, including chocolates flavoured with bitter Seville marmalade and rose jam, made from real roses supplied by close friend and working neighbour, New Forest-based Naked Jam.

“Our units are on a little site near Lymington with views over the countyside and when we’re both making products the smell is amazing,” says Kerry.

She buys her cocoa beans for a fair price directly from farmers from a variety of regions, including areas of South America. “People don’t seem to know this but cacao plants are like vines – the taste of the beans from their pods varies with the terroir, the land on which they are grown,” she says.

Kerry uses her knowledge of this to decide which bean, and from where, would be best in each of her recipes. She now makes for a string of New Forest and Hampshire hotels and restaurants and is eagerly collaborating with Pothecary Gin to use their individual distillates in a range of chocolate for them.

She’s also working with The Coffee Mongers, artisan coffee merchants in Lymington, backing her own hunch that high-quality coffee is going to be the next big thing and developing an espresso chocolate.

“A few years ago I wondered about creating a tobacco-flavoured chocolate, but worried about the PC issues,” she says, “Then I heard recently that another company are bringing out a ‘cigar chocolate’ so maybe I should have rolled with my hunch over that one!”

Like all chocolatiers, Kerry’s product is more expensive than the bars we buy from the petrol station. But that stuff, in her opinion, shouldn’t be called chocolate but candy, because of its vegetable fat and sugar content. After sampling a few of hers, containing blackcurrant and star anise, bitter orange and the magical rose jam, they bear as much resemblance to mass-produced chocolate as a giraffe does to a cat. “Everything about my work is pure, with a clarity of flavour,” she says, which is why she was delighted to be nominated for the Hampshire Life Award.

“It’s important to spread the word about good quality, locally-produced food. My ambition is to get more people buying and eating the type of chocolate I create. Once they taste it, they know there is a difference.”



Andrew Du Bourg on family, mistakes and chasing Michelin stardom - After winning the coveted Chef of the Year title at the Hampshire Life Food and Drink Awards, Andrew Du Bourg talks to Emma Caulton


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

With her reactive, molecular artwork, Southampton artist Nancy Wood manages to capture a moment in time

Read more
Friday, March 2, 2018

Rural communities throughout the UK could be eligible to receive funding via the Calor Rural Community Fund from energy provider Calor

Read more
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Stand-up comic and TV star Ed Byrne thinks our lives have become somewhat spoilt. Honestly, who needs keyless cars and semi-skimmed milk? Viv Micklefield hears more ahead of a return visit to Hampshire

Read more
Friday, February 16, 2018

Let’s drink to Alresford, home to brewers, gin distilleries, and winemakers…

Read more
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Can you identify your clam from your cockle? Natalie French speaks with author of the River Cottage Edible Seashore Handbook, John Wright, to learn more about the art of seashore foraging and what delights we can find on our shoreline

Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Braving the winter weather, wildlife writer Tiffany Francis ventures in to the New Forest to discover more about the work of the community rangers

Read more
Monday, January 15, 2018

Every day life at Highclere Castle isn’t all lights, camera, action. Viv Micklefield meets the real Downton mistress and asks, what keeps her grounded?

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Some of Hampshire’s best known personalities have revealed what they most love about the county. Here, we compile some quotes from our interviews over the years

Read more
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Still not bought those Christmas cards yet? Then look no further. Daphne Vaughan’s vivid seasonal watercolours of Winchester are just the ticket and proceeds go to charity too

Read more
Monday, December 11, 2017

As much a part of Christmas as presents under the tree, mince pies, turkey and sprouts, Emma Caulton asks what makes the traditional panto so special

Read more
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

We announce our 2017 winner of 2017 Hampshire Food Hero at the Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards

Read more
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When the Hon Ralph Montagu inherited the country’s most famous family estate and motor museum two years ago, he already felt right at home. Viv Micklefield meets the man destined to be the driving force behind Beaulieu’s future

Read more
Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Writer Kathy Lette promises full frontal frankness in her show Girls Night Out, as Faith Eckersall explains

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Once a familiar face on local news bulletins, former journalist Caroline Hall now stands in front of a canvas instead of a camera. Sandra Smith met the woman who has sweeping ambitions for her art

Read more
A+ South & South West
Great British Holidays advert link
Pure Weddings advert link
South West Life advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Hampshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search