WE were driving through Somerton, on our way back from some photography for our new book, Deepest Somerset, when we spotted a sign for a new chocolate shop. Who can resist? Well, not us.
New Street leads off Broad Street, to the east of this pretty ancient town, once the capital of Wessex. It’s a little away from the centre, with the famous market cross, but it’s pretty certain that chocolate lovers, fans of delicious hot chocolate drinks and anyone searching for presents for chocoholic friends, will beat a path to Craft House Chocolate.
Chocolatier Nettie Oakley-Prior, a pastry chef by training, and her partner, Tammy, an artist, moved to Somerton from Poole a couple of years ago, and Nettie opened the shop a few months before the pandemic hit. She still managed to make her mark in 2020, winning three Great Taste Awards, included a coveted three stars for the Peruvian 70 % Ucayali River plum and mocha dark chocolate bar. She has also won four Academy of Chocolate awards.
The cacao beans are lightly roasted, in a small batch roaster, “to keep the flavour,” says Nettie. The range of chocolate origins around the little shop is amazing – from Peru and Mexico to Uganda. Madagascar and Vietnam.
Nettie discovered the wonders of chocolate four yrs ago while training as a pastry chef. Having tasted and used most of the chocolate that was available in the industry, she decided that it was time to explore the possibility of making her own chocolate from the bean. She started her business in January 2018, sourcing beans from around the world and paying farmers a better price for cacao.
As well as a vast selection of chocolates – including the bean-to-bar single origin range – all made on the premises in New Street, Nettie offers a delicious choice of hot chocolates (we recommend the Hazelnut Praline).
She also shares her knowledge and expertise, giving chocolate tastings and running courses. And Tammy brings her artistic creativity to the business, designing their packaging and publicity materials.
For more information on Craft House Chocolate visit their website www.crafthousechocolate.com – and if you are in Somerton, visit the shop, and explore this lovely old town.