AFTER six years in the chocolate business, husband and wife team Kenny Walker and Sarah Wall were greedy for more. Not more of the delicious, hand-made, indulgent chocolates they sold in their Barnard Castle shop, but for more space.

They wanted to expand the range of chocolates and ice creams they offer and have an outside area where grown-ups could enjoy hot drinks and where youngsters could tuck into their delicious range of ice creams. The couple had no intention of leaving the town – Sarah is from Teesdale, Kenny a happy ‘incomer’ – so both were thrilled when the perfect property presented itself just across the road.

“Chocolate Fayre was already very much part of the town's high street scene, but we saw an opportunity to make a good business even better,” says Kenny. “We had been renting, but outgrew the old shop some time ago, and after buying 10 Horsemarket we have worked hard to create something special for our customers in a larger space which is entirely ours.”

The Northern Echo:

Kenny and Sarah will continue to offer a mouth-watering array of chocolates to enjoy as a treat or give as a gift, plus Jersey double cream ice creams in more than a dozen flavours. They have also added a new range of artisan roast coffee beans, speciality blends of loose leaf teas and, of course, hot chocolate to buy for consumption at home or enjoy freshly brewed in the newly-created secret garden behind the shop. “It had been left to run wild for decades,” says Kenny. “We have landscaped it to create a lovely sun-trap with an enclosed courtyard and a grassed area.”

The couple, who have three lively children, love being in the centre of Barnard Castle, part of a thriving business community in a town where everyone seems to know everyone else, and sometimes feel they are living the dream. They moved back to the area after they married and owning Chocolate Fayre came about by accident, or fate, really.

The Northern Echo:

“Sarah had wonderful memories of visiting the shop as a child and buying the chocolate animals – still popular with youngsters – and when we moved back to the area, she kept saying that if the chocolate shop ever came up for sale, we should buy it. I thought she was joking, until one day she walked in with the estate agent’s brochure. The rest is history,” says Kenny.

Their background had nothing to do with chocolate, so they had to learn on the hoof. “In terms of skills, the key things are probably energy, enthusiasm, and a love of chocolate, of course,” says Kenny, “plus the ability to make customers feel at ease. We still get excited about chocolate, especially when we add new flavours to the range, and I hope that comes across to customers.”

So how do they avoid temptation? They don’t, says Kenny. “I simply love good food, sweet or savoury. Sarah is more sweet-toothed than me. But we both enjoy a little bit of chocolate pretty much every day!”

  • Chocolate Fayre, 10 Horsemarket, Barnard Castle DL12 8LX. chocolatefayre.co.uk

FAVOURITE FLAVOURS

Chocolates

1) Crunchy Nut Caramel - a layer of crunchy croquant (basically hazelnut brittle), topped with runny caramel, enrobed in a dome of milk chocolate, and topped with half a walnut.

2) Gin & Orange Blossom Truffle - rich dark chocolate ganache of gin with citrus floral orange blossom notes, enrobed in sweet white chocolate.

3) Jam Roly Poly - a textured raspberry mousse centre, surrounded in smooth milk chocolate, then enrobed in white chocolate.

Ice Creams

1) Blackcurrant & Cream - Sharp fruit against the super-creamy Jersey double ice cream really works.

2) Ginger - ginger warmth and sweet ice cream, punctuated by mini bursts of heat as you bite into the little pieces of ginger mixed in.

3) Thunder & Lightning - sweet cinder toffee pieces with rich chocolate sauce ripple. Consistently the most popular flavour!