An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Jan 25, 2014
06:58 AMThe Connecticut Table
Connecticut's Hot New Artisan Chocolates; Insider's Scoop (for Valentine's Day)
Toffee from the Plum Brook Chocolate Facebook page. Photos in text by Laurie Gaboardi/Litchfield County Times.
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Shortly before Christmas, as snow generously brought a glistening new beauty to the Litchfield Hills, word spread among discerning women and sophisticated moms who trade intel on lifestyle finds as they wait for young girls in ballet class, or sons at basketball practice: There was a new artisan chocolatier in Woodbury and her salted caramel truffles were to die for—sweet and salty and satisfying.
The confection that is described like this, “A velvety caramel center is enrobed in dark chocolate and topped with a pinch of Mediterranean sea salt,” started gaining a following as one of those half-whispered semi-secrets: You want the other moms to know that you know about the newest, most delicious thing around with an instant cult following among those in the know—but do you really want other people to know, to make your good thing public knowledge?
In the end, the corps of moms decided that this intel was too good not to share, and declarations grew louder that Connecticut’s hottest new artisan chocolate business had arrived in the form of Plum Brook Chocolate, the venture Pamela Dorgan launched last October.
The line includes a half-dozen varieties of truffles, a couple of barks and—new this month—a decadent toffee.
“What is it about this treat that makes it so irresistible,” Plum Brook’s newsletter says of the new toffee. “The buttery flavor, the soft crunch, or the rich, caramel-like aftertaste? We’re not sure, but we know that our variety, coated in velvety dark chocolate and sprinkled with chopped pecans, will delight the most discriminating toffee enthusiasts.” (Above, Ginger-Rum truffles, and seasonal dark truffles with snowflakes.)
(See the full line, descriptions and pricing details on page two of the story. Anyone can place an order by calling (203) 491-6041 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is still a work in progress—a testament to just how new this venture is—and can be found at www.plumbrookchocolate.com.)
Also see our story Chocolate Treats Across Connecticut: Pancakes With Chips to Banana Chimichanga, Even Chocolate Truffle Stout
As Christmas closed in, Dorgan was working around the clock to fill all her orders—as she also hand-delivered her handmade confections to folks in the greater Woodbury area—and the situation is sure to get more (sweetly) challenging over the next couple of weeks as the official holiday of romance closes in.
For Valentine’s Day, Plum Brook is offering a special heart-shaped box filled with 11 of its richest-tasting truffles at a cost of $22—or any of its chocolates in any configuration, of course.
When is the last time you could find an amuse bouche for romance that incorporates elements only the most sensitive lovers have at their command—a gourmet item with great context that bespeaks sophistication for being savvy enough to find it, the exclusivity of the handmade, limited availability, a (delicious) wow factor, and the intimacy of a gift individually selected—all for $22.
The sweet satisfaction that will improve your stock with a loved one on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, springs forth from the newly-minted chocolatier's long-simmering love affair with a childhood memory and its associations.
“When I was young my mother made buttercreams,” Dorgan says, referring to the chocolates her mother made in the hundreds over the holidays. She had them every year growing up, and as an adult she tried her mother’s recipe and found it needed tweaking, so she experimented with that formula and others from her childhood.
A 20-year career in the pharmaceutical industry intervened in the continuity of the pursuit and she forget about making buttercreams and other treats for a long stretch. (Above, Pamela Dorgan at Winding Drive/Plum Brook Chocolate. Right, a six-piece selection.)
Eventually, the pharma career was behind her and she returned to making chocolates, and, as these types of success stories go, every time Dorgan shared one of her creations, whoever tasted it invariably expressed pleasure, and offered encouragement: “People kept saying, ‘These are so good you need to sell them.’”
Meanwhile, she completed and online course on chocolate, studying its history and the artistry and chemistry involved in making fine chocolates. “I just loved it,” she says. “I said, ‘This is what I’m supposed to be doing.’”
There was further study last January in New York City, and Dorgan became an Ecole Chocolate Certified Chocolatier.
Through a fortuitous meeting with the owners of Winding Drive Jams & Jellies in Woodbury, Dorgan found a site from which to launch her passion as a business; she shares the artisan jam makers’ commercial kitchen in a Route 6 site in a lease arrangement.
In the pre-Christmas season last year, Dorgan found initial exposure through holiday fairs and farmers markets, notably the terrific Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market in Litchfield, which is in the midst of an indoor season at the Litchfield Community Center.