Address: 647 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne, 3141
Phone: (03) 9827 7060
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am until 6.30pm
After being blessed with a birthday box of goodies from Burch & Purchese in early September, it was finally time to visit the sweet studio in person. After a late breakfast at Golden Fields (blog post to come), we headed to the South Yarra sweet studio on the way home.
Don’t let the limited parking deter you; Burch & Purchese is utterly unique. As we opened the door, a pretty young shop assistant in an equally pretty pink apron greeted us. “Would you like to try some cranberry, almond and freeze dried plum nougat?” she asked, thrusting a small glass plate under our noses. Would we ever!
After tasting the soft, fruity squares, we were able to give our surroundings our full attention. A simple space with polished floors, the plain interior of Burch & Purchese ensures that nothing detracts from their product. On entering the store, there is a glass display cabinet to the left, which houses the alluring cakes and desserts on offer. Behind it there is an array of pink B&P gift bags and a freezer full of homemade ice creams. All the B&P packaged products are displayed on cork shelves, with blocks of chocolate pinned to the walls.
Regardless of your age, you will feel like a kid in a candy store at Burch & Purchese. The cakes come in a variety of flavours, and you can also buy smaller, $9 servings that look almost too good to eat. On the day we visited the following were available:
- Dark chocolate, pear and hazelnut mousse; and banana, caramel and rum mousse desserts
- Vanilla, pistachio, lemon and green tea layered mousse cake; and violet, white chocolate, lemon and toasted pinenut 'Nutella' mousse dessert
- Avocado, mint, cucumber and white chocolate layered dessert
- White chocolate and orange eclairs; and rhubarb apple and walnut cheesecake
- Smoked white chocolate, coffee, aniseed and lemon layered cake; and dark chocolate and hazelnut eclairs
- Passionfruit chocolate and caramel dessert; and coconut, ginger, passionfruit and mint layered dessert
- Chocolate, mandarin and salted caramel mousse cake
- Raspberry and milk chocolate eclairs; and raspberry, white chocolate, honey and lychee mousse cake
The packaged products included spreads such as chocolate and salted caramel, dark chocolate hazelnut crumble and green tea white chocolate clay. In the chocolate department you will find everything from white pink peppercorn blocks to dark Persian delight slabs. You will also find biscuits, spreads, jams and imported freeze dried fruit.
For that special occasion, you can order edible cards to accompany a box of edible flowers. If your budget allows, you can even purchase the edible flower artwork on the wall. When it comes to choosing colours for a customized cake, simply consult the giant, edible artist’s palate in the corner.
When we visited, the display in the centre of the store consisted of cakes topped with an edible pig, a racing car, and a ladybird, as well as a layered wonder that was sprouting a flower.
Behind this exhibit is the ‘inspiration wall,’ where identical glass jars of ingredients are arranged by colour in neat rows; a culinary Aesop, if you will.
Beyond this you will find the immaculate kitchen. Tools hang from a suspended rod and include everything from conventional mixers to builder’s drills. Thermomixes, industrial mixers, heaters and coolers are scattered on either side of the marble and stainless steel benches, which radiate with a pink glow from the colourful surrounds.
Overwhelmed by the treats on offer, we met Darren Purchese’s partner, Cath Claringbold, in the sweet studio. She fed us pistachio, lemon and white chocolate persuader biscuits and gave us a rundown of the business.
She spoke in awe about the increasing popularity of Burch & Purchese, especially following what she described as the ‘Masterchef effect,’ which saw the entire store picked clean in a single day by enthusiastic viewers, after Darren’s guest appearance on the cooking show. She explained how B&P has a tourist market, with visitors from interstate jotting it down on their ‘to do’ lists along with the Eureka Tower and Victoria Market. She predicted that the kitchen may soon have to run overnight in order to keep up with demand. After being involved in the restaurant business for many years, she doesn't miss savoury cooking and is happily concentrating on sweets.
Half way through our conversation, Darren appeared through the back door and joined us. He paused in his busy schedule to meet our family—just your average customers come to have a gawk—and then took the time to walk us through the kitchen machinery and products with Cath. They told us excitedly about Dani Valent’s new Thermomix recipe book, "In the Mix," in which Darren features a dessert recipe and Cath a savoury recipe. They spoke of how being restaurateurs has enabled them to make B&P more than just a cake shop, with their appreciation for presentation and interesting combinations of ingredients, as well as a focus on flavours.
We went home with caramelised cocoa nibs, B&P’s “new secret weapon,” to sprinkle on our own cooking creations, as well as some ice cream homemade with Jonesy's dairy fresh cream. You can purchase small 155ml tubs or larger 500ml take-home portions. We sampled the violet and honeycomb crumble, a fragrant take on the chocolate bar with sweet, gooey honeycomb surrounding the floral, pale purple base. The cucumber and lime sorbet had a silky finish. Tangy and refreshing, it is the perfect cooler for during summer.
We also devoured two ice creams on sticks. Biting through the chocolate shell, sprinkled with freeze dried raspberry powder and popping candy, revealed a smooth raspberry ice cream filling. My personal favourite was the '647', named after the shop street number. It starred a vanilla ice cream centre peppered with specks of vanilla bean and was coated with caramelised white chocolate. Sprinkled with roasted macadamia nuts, I could have eaten the entire supply. Next time I’ll take home the spicy roast pumpkin and butterscotch popcorn.
Although B&P has enabled people to access dessert products and creations that were previously only available to the trade, the approachable business owners were the highlight of our visit. As sweet as their creations, it was an absolute joy to meet both Darren and Cath. Taking the time to chat with us not only demonstrated how grateful they are for the support of their customers, it also provided us with a better insight into their business. The only thing it didn’t do was convince us to come back... we had already decided to revisit as soon as we stepped though the door.