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Cherry Pickings: The inspiration for Sake + Sakura
We don't know about you but we think it's never officially Spring until we see cherry blossoms.And good news, even if cherry blossoms haven't come into season where you are, you can now taste them in...you guessed it, Sake + Sakura.Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossoms, and they’re the symbolic flowers of Spring, renewal and new beginnings. In Japan, cherry blossom parties are held with friends and family, where everyone enjoys a potluck under cherry blossoms. This custom is called hanami, which literally means “watching blossoms,” and it can be traced back at least a thousand years.Sake (pronounced sah-keh) dates back to the 3rd century and is a Japanese fermented rice wine with an aroma that’s been described as fruity, nutty and caramel-like. There are several different types of sake as specified by the Japanese government. Sake is usually served chilled (at about the same temperature as white wine) but it can also be served warmed up, depending on the type of sake. The sake we've sourced actually comes from Vancouver's famous Granville Island, from a local Japanese artisan sakemaker there.You'll find sake at most hanami parties, especially in Japan, so grab a picnic blanket, some friends, Sake + Sakura to share and enjoy the cherry blossoms.And if you want to learn more about how Sake + Sakura got its gorgeous speckled look (the natural way!), read our blog post about the incredibly cool Cocoa Butter Spraying Process.
Groovy, Baby: Check out Purdys’ fab take on Banoffee Pie
Keira Knightley’s character in the film Love Actually (like Banoffee Pie, it’s another British triumph) attempts to extend an olive branch to another character by way of tasty pastry.We’ve all been there, and Banoffee Pie is probably of the best ways to bribe someone—but you didn’t hear it from us.You can find hundreds, if not thousands, of Banoffee Pie recipes online and it’s now a dessert that’s famous worldwide.But what exactly is Banoffee Pie? Well, it’s an English dessert (hail, Britannia!) comprised of a crumb or pastry base, a toffee filling, and topped with fresh bananas and whipped cream. The pie is often garnished with additional caramel sauce or chocolate shavings and, if you’re feeling particularly sinful, custard or ice cream.Banoffee Pie (originally spelled Banoffi Pie) was invented in 1971 at The Hungry Monk Restaurant in East Sussex by chef Ian Dowding, with some help and encouragement from the restaurant’s owner Nigel Mackenzie.But back to our Banoffee, which packs just as much of a flavourful punch as the original.You can enjoy it on its own or as part of an utterly epic cookie sandwich:Ingredients:For cookie dough:1 cup butter1 cup sugar1 1/2 cups flour3/4 cup shredded coconut1 tsp baking soda1 tsp baking powder1/2 cup brown sugar1 egg1 1/4 cups oatmealFor filling:Purdys' Banoffee1 large bananaInstructions:Preheat over at 350°FCream together butter and sugar.Add remaining cookie dough ingredients and mix until blended.Roll into 1 inch balls or use a scoop. Flatten dough slightly.Place on pan lined with parchment paper.Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden.Once cookies are out of the oven, turn them over with a pair of tongs.Slice each Banoffee piece in half and place on one half of the cookies. The heat from the cookies should slightly melt the Banoffee. If not, warm cookies in microwave slightly.Slice banana onto the other half of the cookies.Squish the cookie sides together to make a Banana Banoffee sandwich!
Sayoubakro Primary School Expansion in Côte d’Ivoire
A few months back, one of our shop managers in Ontario reached out to me with a great idea.She wondered if we could buy books and send them to children in our cocoa farming communities. What a phenomenal idea!I contacted Cocoa Horizons (one of our Sustainable Cocoa partners on the ground) and they suggested the Sayoubakro Primary School in Sassandra, southern Côte d’Ivoire. The school had recently expanded its classroom capacity, and 1 of the 3 new classrooms had space for a library—which made the school the best place to begin our library initiatives. Sayoubakro is also one of the first schools we helped fund through Purdys’ Sustainable Cocoa Program.The school needed $2500 to purchase government-recommended books, build shelving and cupboards to house the books, and also set up a paper cataloging system.Our teams in the shops, factory kitchen and support office worked very hard on employee-led fundraising events to raise the money: bake sales, barbecues, bottles drives…it’s a long and very amazing list!In the end, we not only met our goal of $2500 but exceeded it by $1000 for a grand total of $3500.The money raised went towards the purchase of books and didactic materials (i.e. teaching materials designed to instruct and educate) and built-in shelving units. The school has also set up onsite reading sessions which occur every Wednesday as well as a new loaning system which is monitored by one of the school’s teachers.To me, this really goes to show that no matter who or where we are, we can come together and make a huge difference to someone. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone at Purdys who made the library at Sayoubakro possible.
The real Magic Beans: How cocoa took over the world
No question about it, the cocoa bean is the best bean in the world (sorry, coffee lovers, real talk).We found out some epic trivia about cocoa beans while researching Aztec drinking chocolate recipes.Make yourself a mug of Purdys’ Aztec Spiced Hot Chocolate and read up on these cool facts about cocoa:Ancient South American cultures, like the Mayans and the Aztecs, mention cocoa as part of their creation myth—cocoa was a gift from the gods. This actually inspired the cocoa tree’s scientific name Theobroma cacao, which literally translates to “Food of the Gods”. Originally, chocolate was strictly a ceremonial drink. Cocoa beans were fermented, roasted and ground into a paste to be mixed with water and spices to create xocolatl (‘bitter water’). The Spanish conquistadors took chocolate back to Europe and tweaked the recipe by adding sugar.Soon enough, enterprising bakers took an interest in the actual cocoa beans.In 1828, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, inventor Van Houton created the cocoa press, which separated cocoa powder from cocoa solids. Chocolate bars became a thing, and the demand for raw cocoa was such that cocoa trees (originally from South America) were planted near the equator in regions such as Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon and Nigeria.Want to know where Purdys’ cocoa comes from? We purchase only from 100% sustainable sources that benefit cocoa farmers and the environment. Check out Purdys’ Sustainable Cocoa Program.
We did it (and we're not done!)
I know I speak for everyone at Purdys Chocolatier when I say that we're all incredibly proud of the results of our Clean Water Project, where $2 from the sale of each Clean Water Project chocolate bar went towards raising funds for LifeStraw Community water filters. We launched the program just a few short weeks ago, on April 3rd, and it's specifically focused on raising funds for LifeStraw Community filters to be distributed in cocoa-growing co-ops that are part of the Purdys Sustainable Cocoa Program. Our Sustainable Cocoa Program itself continues to support our cocoa-growing co-ops around the world by providing our farmer partners with better wages, medical care and community programs that help to raise the standard of living for themselves, their families and their communities.LifeStraw Community filters, made by Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen, are award-winning devices that are easy to use and provide clean, safe drinking water without the use of any chemicals, electricity or other special treatments. These filters remove 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoan (disease-causing) parasites—which means that fewer children miss school because of illness from dirty water or because they must fetch water from places that aren't easily accessible.Just one LifeStraw Community filter provides safe, clean drinking water for about 60 children for three whole years. We initially hoped to raise enough funds for 35 LifeStraw Community water filters. But thanks to your enthusiatic support of the Clean Water Project, we've already met our goal...and we're going to keep going.We want to see how many more LifeStraw Community water filters we can fundraise for, so we're hard at work at our Factory Kitchen crafting more Clean Water Project bars (milk chocolate with crunchy salted butter toffee pieces).Thank you for your continued support and for helping make clean water possible in rural cocoa-growing communities.Sincerely,PeterPeter Higgins, President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier
Whiskey, Whisky, What?
What better way to cheer on St. Patrick's Day than with whiskey, Ireland's unofficial official drink?Specifically, Irish Whiskey Truffle, which is a deep dark chocolate truffle made with Bushmills Irish Whiskey from Ireland’s oldest distillery (licensed in 1608, whoa).Whiskey (or whisky, more on that in a bit!) is crafted from a mash of malted grains like barley, corn or wheat. The amount of each grain used, where the whiskey is distilled, and how the whiskey is aged is what creates different types like Irish whiskey, Scottish whisky, bourbon, scotch and moonshine.‘Whiskey’ comes from the Gaelic phrase uisce betha, meaning ‘water of life’, a translation of the Latin aqua vitae, which was used to describe spirits (not the spooky kind, the drinking kind!).Whiskey with an ‘e’ refers to the Irish or American liquors. Whisky without the ‘e’ refers to liquors distilled in Scotland, Canada and Japan. The plural of whiskey is whiskeys while the plural of whisky is whiskies. Still with us? An easy way to remember which is which is by keeping in mind that there's a 'e' in Ireland and America but there's no 'e' in Scotland, Canada or Japan. And while you can buy whisk(e)y made in the USA, Canada or Japan, it's the Scots and Irish who are best known for it. Whisk(e)y was most certainly invented in either Scotland or Ireland sometime during the Middle Ages (and we hear they're still 'discussing' who should claim the credit for inventing it).The process of making whiskey (or whisky) is as individual as the maker. It all starts with the grain, generally barley, steeped in water and then left to germinate. During this process, starch in the grain is converted into sugar by special enzymes. After about 6-7 days of germination, the grain (now called malt) is dried to halt the germination process.The dried malt is ground into grist, mixed with hot water, then yeast is added to begin the fermentation process.Lastly, the mixture is distilled at least twice, and then aged in wooden casks, traditionally oak casks.However, the Bushmills Irish Whiskey we chose specifically for our Irish Whiskey Truffle is aged in former Oloroso (a type of sherry) casks, which gives the whiskey rich, fruity notes that are the ideal complement to our rich dark chocolate.So grab a few Irish Whiskey Truffles and get ready to cheers, or as the Irish say, Sláinte (pronounced slawn-cha, meaning 'health').
Yuzu, the coolest fruit you’ve (maybe) never heard of but you definitely should
Nothing excites our chocolatiers more than funky-cool ingredients.Take Yuzu. It’s pronounced yoo-zoo and is nearly impossible to describe. Some say the flavour is a tangy mix of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. Some say it’s more like peach, lemon and lime.Basically, it’s a citrus that’s 10x better than all the other citrus (citruses? citri?) put together.Yuzu is a hugely popular citrus in Japan, and you’ll find it used in savoury dishes and desserts. Whole Yuzu fruit or juice is even used in baths as a skin softener. Originally, Yuzu comes from China and rolled into Japan during the Tang Dynasty some 1,000 years ago, where it was used for medicinal purposes and in cooking.Yuzu is very likely a hybrid of Ichang papeda (a hardy, slow-growing citrus) and sour mandarin. Looks-wise, Yuzu is about as big as a tangerine, with a bumpy yellow-orange rind and tons of seeds inside.Over in the Western world, Yuzu is gaining popularity (watch your back, lemon!), but it’s not that easy to find yet…which didn’t stop us!We sourced fabulously tart Yuzu juice, turned it into a fun jelly layer (officially known as pâte de fruits in the business) and combined it with—what else—chocolate. Not just any chocolate. Rich dark chocolate made with 100% sustainable cocoa.And that’s the story of how a little-known citrus from Japan inspired our massively popular Yuzu Jelly Ganache. Have you tried it yet?