WOODBURY – One of the sweetest gifts Valentine’s Day gifts is made right here in Woodbury. Plum Brook Chocolate assortments are back on the shelf at Ovens of France, and it’s the only place in town that carries it.
Of course, with its popularity, Plum Brook Chocolate owner, founder, and chocolatier Pam Dorgan could expand her business beyond Litchfield County.
But Dorgan likes the flexibility that comes with being a nano-chocolatier. By creating chocolates in small batches, she can create confections during peak customer times, and handle marketing and paperwork during the summer months.
It’s also a time when Dorgan can develop recipes, start booking September weddings, and even enjoy some travel.
How It All Began
Dorgan began making chocolates as a hobby. When she was a child, living in the Baltimore area, Dorgan would watch her mom, Betty, made butter cream truffles for their family and friends. So, as an adult, Dorgan experimented with her mom’s recipe, and eventually made it her career.
Though she quit her day job, Dorgan’s educational background as a nurse comes in handy as a nano-chocolatier. The process of forming high-quality chocolate is largely a chemistry problem. It deals with concepts such as crystal formation and melting point, according to The Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology at the University of Wisconsin.
Dorgan had been laid off from a pharmaceutical firm after 22 years. She’d quickly taken a job with another firm but said the fit with the new company just didn’t seem right.
So, in 2013, Dorgan left and launched Plum Brook Chocolate.
“I always wanted to be an artisan chocolatier, but I also had job security,” Dorgan said. “The first chocolates I made were not as good as my childhood memories were.”
Now that she is in her fifth year of business, Dorgan sees tremendous growth in her September to May business. She’s grown the business so much that Dorgan has had to stop producing the chocolates in Woodbury and now reserves space at Mindful Kitchen in New Preston.
What’s in The Box?
For Valentine’s Day, you may be looking at something as simple solid dark chocolate hearts. But Dorgan also makes creations with far more detail.
For example, there’s the Sugar Shed Maple – Local maple syrup from Brookside Farm II infused white chocolate truffle center topped with toasted pecan bursts with the taste of New England.
And Dorgan’s Salted Caramel, a hand-cut soft caramel in dark chocolate sprinkled with Fleur de Sel.
Both those chocolates were winners in recent Connecticut Specialty Foods Associations’ annual awards competitions. Sugar Shed Maple placed second in 2015, and the Salted Caramel won the competition in 2016.
Dorgan does accept online orders, but in a way that she says shows Plum Brook Chocolates’ small-town charm. The customer can leave a message for Dorgan on the Plum Brook Chocolate website, and Dorgan will call the customer to take the order.
And as a bonus, Dorgan offers free delivery to Woodbury residents, and $5 delivery to other locations in Litchfield county. And she makes the deliveries herself.
“I’d thought about ecommerce, but do I want to be packing boxes and shipping chocolates?” Dorgan said. “The answer is no. I like the face-to-face interaction and getting to know my customers.”