Last week, we took a trip up country to the New Forest in Hampshire to see CT’s mother. She lives in Lymington, a pretty coastal town on the edge of the Forest. Our visits don’t always include a Saturday, but if ever they do, we make sure we have a good look around the market. This time, we struck lucky.
Lymington Market, for those who’ve never been fortunate enough to venture there, is held weekly on Saturdays and lines both sides of the quite extensive high street. It is an eclectic mix of old style market and new artisan food stalls, with something to interest pretty much everyone: bags, shoes, clothes, vegetables, fish, cheese, sourdough bread, plants, pet accessories, DIY items, antiques, household goods, crafts – you name it, they’ve got it.
It had been nearly a couple of years since I’d visited the market, so as is the way of things, there had been a noticeable change in the mix of stalls. Much to my surprise and delight, I came across a stall selling artisan chocolates. I’d never seen one of those before in Lymington, so I hastened over to have a chat with the stall holder. She turned out to be the chocolatier herself, Miss Witt.
Another surprise was to discover that these were handmade chocolates with a difference. Kerry makes them without cream. Unusually, her fillings are made with water ganache or in the case of fruit fillings, Naked Jams. Kerry explained that she used water instead of cream in her ganache as it brings out the flavours giving a “purer” taste.
We got chatting about water ganache, as you do and before I quite realised what was happening I’d been offered a box of chocolates to take home with me. Needless to say, I didn’t refuse the offer. I’ve made water ganache a few times and I’m always surprised at just how good it is. It makes for a lighter filling I find and also has a longer shelf life as there is no cream involved. For those interested in reducing their fat intake, these chocolates would be ideal. Another advantage is that, depending on the type of chocolate used, water ganache can be vegan friendly.
I chose a mix of dark, milk and white comprised of some of the flavours I thought were particularly interesting. But if truth be told, I would have taken one of each if I could – they all looked and sounded quite delectable. They tasted rather good too, just as good as I was hoping, if not better. CT didn’t get a look in.
I have a singular weakness for rose, something I associate both with my very much loved grandfather who grew the most spectacular scented roses and my Middle Eastern genes. Both the name and look of this, with its 40% milk chocolate teacup, conjured up afternoon tea in a garden laden with roses. The flavour was sublime, reminding me of the bars of Turkish Delight I loved as a child but find way too sickly now. But this was in no way sickly, it had all of the flavour without overwhelming the palate with sweetness. It had a smooth texture punctuated with pieces of rose petal.
A Shooting Star
This dark ganache covered in 70% Saint Dominque chocolate was most intriguing and I was keen to see how the flavours of blackcurrant, tarragon and star anise would work together. The answer is surprisingly well. I was slightly concerned that the star anise would overpower the other flavours, but I could taste all three individually and in combination and it worked brilliantly with the dark chocolate.
I adore the taste of pistachio, but find its essence can so easily be overwhelmed by other ingredients. The white chocolate ganache and covering was a good choice here, allowing the delicate flavour to come through. The ganache was a beautiful green colour and included pieces of caramalized hazelnuts along with the pistachio – let’s just say I’m nuts about this one.
Regular readers of this blog will know how much I like the combination of green tea and chocolate. So this green tea and cherry blossom ganache enrobed in 40% milk chocolate was an absolute must. The ganache was soft and smooth and the flavours were subtle in the way that Japanese things often are. I wasn’t sure I could have identified the ingredients if I hadn’t already known what they were. No matter, it was totally delicious and almost had the characteristics of a really good caramel rather than a ganache.
This one wasn’t in the shape of a cup, but was made with real tea – Cornish tea no less. It was this very one that first started the conversation with Kerry – I was so surprised to see Tregothnan Earl Grey out of its home county of Cornwall. I just had to try it. The flavour of the ganache, which was also soft and very smooth was subtle but delicious. However, I found it was rather overwhelmed by the sweet white chocolate it was coated in and was my least favourite of the six I tried.
This was a much firmer and chewier ganache than the others I tried and had a lovely hit of amaretto which is one of my favourite tipples. Enrobed in 40% milk chocolate, I can attest this was indeed sheer pleasure.
For those unable to get to Lymington Market, Chocolate by Miss Witt can be bought online.
Many thanks to Miss Witt for the box of chocolates given to me to try. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.