Last week, as part of our series on Oxfordshire food producers, I finally got round to having a proper chat with Sheree, the lady behind Oxford’s yummiest handmade chocolates. It may have been one of the first proper wintry days of the year and for some reason we were sat in a rooftop bar, but in between sips of a hot drink and shivering, we managed to talk a lot about all types of chocolate!
Sheree is not just the owner of Chocsford, she’s the only one at Chocsford! All those chocolates are made from start to sale by her, and that’s a massive change from her previous life in accountancy! One of those change of career epiphanies saw her attending Le Cordon Bleu where she particularly enjoyed the patisserie sessions, including the dreaded entremets. Working with chocolate and developing different textures and flavours resulted in the launch of Chocsford.
Sheree can be regularly found at some of Oxford’s farmer’s markets, particularly East Oxford and Wolvercote. Regular lines include my favourites, the dark chocolate salted caramels with their delicate sprinkling of sea salt on the top – now available in milk chocolate too. Then there’s Swiss Roche hazelnut pralines, praline hearts and of course truffles. Dark chocolate truffles, milk chocolate truffles, champagne truffles, honey truffles with locally produced honey and recently launched in time for Christmas, Kir Royale truffles with champagne and blackcurrant liqueur!
As well as these, you can get dark chocolate shards, flavoured with an intense cold kick of mint, or white chocolate with freeze dried raspberries. Fruit and nut clusters have suitably festive colours, white chocolate enrobed dried cranberries, chopped pistachios and orange confit before being drizzled with dark chocolate. Fruit and nut florentines with their hidden coat of chocolate underneath.
All of these are entirely handmade, with nothing artificial added and no preservatives which is a handy excuse to eat them quickly! But if you do need to store them, remember that they contain fresh cream and therefore have a short shelf life. Keep them in the fridge in a sealed container to avoid being tainted by other foods and take them out a little while before eating to allow them to come back to room temperature. But don’t open the lid as then you’ll get condensation beading.
So what chocolate does a chocolatier eat? Apparently Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut is still a favourite, but it has to be washed down with a glass of cold milk. On special occasions, champagne truffles from William Curley or Iain Burnett’s velvet truffles will do very nicely! And yes, I may have ordered some, purely out of curiosity of course…
If this has whetted your appetite for some local artisan chocolates, then you can find Sheree at the above farmer’s markets, The Post Box in Wolvercote, Alcock’s Butchers in Summertown or contact via the website www.chocsford.co.uk