‘People get so much joy out of chocolate,” says Pam Abraham from Dumfries, who loves seeing faces light up at the sight and taste of her hand-made Belgian chocolates.

And, as a full-time educational visitor for Dumfries & Galloway Council, Pam has found her chocolate-making enterprise is her own joyful switch-off after a busy working week.

“I find it a really mindful activity,” she says. “Although, when I started in October/ November three years ago, I had no idea how busy that first Christmas would be.”

With a background as a pastry chef in top European hotels and on a luxury cruise ship, Pam has always enjoyed making chocolates for friends and family as gifts, but when she was asked to make some for a friend’s daughter’s wedding, she recognised the potential to take it further.

Great British Life: Pam AbrahamPam Abraham (Image: Mike Bolam)

“One of the guests asked if I make them for sale, which got me thinking about it. I thought I’d just dip my toe in the water, so I started preparing some for Christmas 2020 and it took off.”

Now marketing her luxury chocolates as Pam Au Chocolat UK, Pam sells boxes of chocolates in 12 flavours, along with larger orders for wedding favours and buffets.

Her busiest time is still Christmas, when she calls in husband John, a development chef with Castle MacLellan Foods Ltd in Kirkcudbright, for help closely followed by Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter.

Originally from Glasgow, Pam studied at Glasgow College of Food Technology after leaving school, and took a night class in pastry and dessert-making.

Great British Life: Pam Au Chocolat chocolatesPam Au Chocolat chocolates (Image: Mike Bolam)

At just 17 she was given the chance to work as a commis chef in a hotel in Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland for a summer.

“I’ve always been interested in travel, and I absolutely loved it,” she says. Returning to college for her second year, Pam met her then boyfriend - now husband – John, who travelled back to Switzerland with her the following summer to take a job as a waiter. “We loved it so much we decided to stay on for the winter season. We loved the mountains and learned to ski.”

Over the next few years, the pair moved on to five-star hotels in Grindelwald and Interlaken, where Pam worked in large pastry sections and John moved up from waitering to Chef de Partie and then Sous Chef.

“I learned chocolate recipes and how to make chocolate in Switzerland,” Pam says.

Great British Life: The finishing touchesThe finishing touches (Image: Mike Bolam)

“My whole skill set came from there. We made huge chocolate displays, petit fours, tortes, crème brûlée and at Easter we’d have elaborate displays with chocolate eggs, fancy piping and blown sugar.”

Still having the urge to travel, Pam and John leapt at the chance of jobs on a small cruise ship – Pam as pastry chef and John as head chef - with the prestigious, luxury American Seabourn Cruise Line.

They travelled through Asia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, to Russia, South America and as far as Australia and New Zealand, hopping off to go back packing at the end of each four-month contract.

After five years, the couple returned to Scotland when Pam was pregnant with their first child, Kai, who is now 26. They took jobs at the iconic Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh while living in a caravan on the coast at Seton Sands.

Great British Life: Pam loves making chocolatesPam loves making chocolates (Image: Mike Bolam)

“After Kai was born, we realised the hospitality industry wasn’t going to work for a family so John took a development chef position with Pinneys seafood in Annan, which brought us to Dumfries.”

Following the birth of two more sons – Owen, now 25, and Jay, 22 – Pam completed a degree in child development at the University of Paisley in Dumfries and a postgraduate in primary teaching through the University of Strathclyde.

After launching Pam Au Chocolat, Pam’s lucky friends were her taste testers, helping her trial different flavours and come up with her definitive 12 white, milk and dark chocolates: coconut and Baileys, raspberry, fudge, salted caramel, peanut, mint, dark strawberry, brownie, honeycomb, vanilla caramel, lemon and orange.

Pam uses top quality Belgian chocolate pellets for her recipe, pipes her flavoured mixes into shells before dipping them in her tempered chocolate and decorating them.

Great British Life: Pam's chocolates come in 12 flavoursPam's chocolates come in 12 flavours (Image: Mike Bolam)

She developed a logo and box wrapper and sells her chocolates through her website www.pamauchocolat.com, as well as at Christmas and Wedding fairs, with orders being posted or collected from her home.

Along with boxes of six, 12 and 24 chocolates, Pam recently added advent calendars to her product-line, which have proved extremely popular, and crackers, which sold out last Christmas.

Despite the success of her enterprise, Pam says she is happy with it “ticking along as it is” alongside her ‘day job’ and continuing to bring pleasure to people’s lives.

“When I’m at fairs I always have tasters and it’s lovely to see people try a chocolate. They close their eyes and say: ‘that’s amazing.’ It brings them joy, and that brings joy to me.”