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1907: The Year Things Got Sweet
It's Canada's 150th birthday this year! And it's our 110th birthday!We figured we'd celebrate with chocolate (always chocolate) and take a look back at some sweet moments in our Purdys history.First up, 1907 AKA the beginning.Purdys' founder, Richard Carmon Purdy, was originally from London, Ontario. Born on January 20, 1878, he moved out west to Vancouver some time in the early 1900s.He was also a barber by trade, according to the 1901 Canadian Census.We're not sure if he was a good barber but he had a real passion and talent for chocolate-making.So in 1907, he traded shaving cream for chocolate shavings.He sold his homemade chocolates on the streets of Vancouver and pretty soon after, he saw the need for an actual chocolate shop to meet the demands of his increasing fan base.That original shop was at 915 Robson Street, in an area of Vancouver that was quickly becoming the heart of the downtown shopping district.And the rest is sweet, sweet history.Want a taste of that history? Get it with Vanilla Caramels, crafted from an original 1907 recipe.You can find Vanilla Caramels on their own in the Chocolate Case or in our Caramel Assortment. If you like, you can request a custom pack of just Vanilla Caramels, whether you're ordering online or in a shop, or just enjoy some other incredible caramels with them. Either/or, you can't go wrong.Himalayan Pink Salt Caramels are also crafted from the same OG 1907 recipe.Isn't learning about history just tasty?Next up, we're going back to 1939. And cows. Oh, yeah, it's a good story.
1939: The Year We Bought a Farm
As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline. The year is 1939. It’s the start of World War II and rations mean that cream and butter are in short supply.Hugh Forrester, then-owner at Purdys Chocolatier, came up with a pretty sweet workaround to the rations—by purchasing a dairy farm with 20 cows in Ladner, BC (which is about 40 minutes outside of Vancouver). Throughout the war, Purdys' chocolatiers and candy makers had fresh cream and butter daily from this farm to craft favourites that are still made today, like any of our Creams. But WWII didn’t just mean rations; it also meant supply restrictions, which meant that Purdys shops sold out of chocolates very quickly. Each day during the war, the shops would open at exactly noon and customers could only purchase one pound of chocolates each. There were line-ups around the block, and we usually sold out of chocolates within half an hour of opening.Evelyn Powell, a Purdys fan who lived in Edmonton during WWII and came to Vancouver with her friend on a mission to find lumber (as Alberta was experiencing a lumber shortage at the time), remembers: “One day we saw a line-up on Granville Street. In those days, when you saw a line-up, you got into it. If you didn’t need what was offered, someone you knew did.‘What is on,’ we asked. No one knew. As the line moved on, people came by waving their parcels. ‘Chocolates’, they smiled. ‘Purdys chocolates, in boxes.’ We let out a scream. We hadn’t seen a box of chocolates in months! We each got a box, and went back to Purdys every day and stood in the line-up.When we went back to Edmonton, it was with seven boxes each and some lumber. We were really proud of ourselves.” And the farm with 20 cows in Ladner? It got sold after the war ended in 1945.Next up, we’re time travelling to the 60s. Specifically 1963, which is when milk chocolate became a thing at Purdys.
1963: The Year We Got Milk (Chocolate)
As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline. In 1993, American advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners came up with the now-iconic “Got milk” slogan for the dairy industry, which is said to be the most remembered tagline ever in the beverage industry.But that’s not where our story starts. We’re going back 30 years earlier, to 1963, when Purdys customers were saying ‘got milk chocolate’? The answer was no, actually. Purdys chocolates were crafted using only dark chocolate until Charles Flavelle, then-owner of Purdys Chocolatier, introduced milk chocolate to our lineup that same year. Already popular in Eastern Canada, milk chocolate proved to be a very, ahem, sweet idea. Milk chocolate is typically made from the same ingredients as dark chocolate (cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, soya lecithin—an emulsifier—and vanillin, an extract of the vanilla bean) and one extra ingredient: milk. The percentage of cocoa powder and cocoa butter also makes a difference. Dark chocolate generally has a higher percentage of both, often giving it more of a bittersweet taste. Ghana, one of our Single Origin Bars, has a 45% cocoa content, so it’s often described as a deeper milk chocolate.And, of course, we had to take our “regular” milk chocolate even further—ours is actually a special blend of milk, dark and white chocolate together to create a memorable, uniquely Purdys taste.What’s next in our time-travel itinerary? The 80s and ice cream (baby).
A Degree of Sweetness: What it takes to become a Chocolate Scientist
Whenever Peter Higgins (that’s him in the photo, on a cocoa farm in Ivory Coast) introduces himself as President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier, he gets asked a lot of questions about the latter. And since it’s grad season (say conGRADS with our cap-and-gown chocolate collection), we thought why not cozy up with Peter and a box of Hedgehogs for a Q&A?If you’re a frequent reader of the blog, you might recognize Peter from his blog posts on Sustainable Cocoa, most recently the one on our Clean Water Project that aims to raise funds for LifeStraw Community water filters in Ivory Coast. Q: How does someone become a Chocolate Scientist?Peter: I have a Food Science degree from the University of British Columbia. It’s a very hands-on degree, it’s not all studying in a classroom. You get to go out there, learn about different types of soils, you learn about chemistry and molecules that make up food, it’s a lot of practical stuff. That’s the kind of thing that interests me. Chocolate-making is a science, it’s recipes, it’s testing flavour combinations, it’s being creative. I’m using my degree every day. Q: What’s a typical day for you? Peter: I’ve been with Purdys for 19 years now so I feel pretty good about saying this: there’s no typical day. I could be in all-day strategic planning meetings or sampling test chocolates or brainstorming ideas with our chocolatier Rachel McKinley. I also do a lot of TV and radio appearances, I love doing that and getting together with people and sharing chocolates and talking about it. But my absolute favourite is that I have the opportunity to visit some of our farmer partners in rural cocoa-growing communities. I get to witness firsthand the impact of our Sustainable Cocoa Program, chat with our farmer partners, I even had the chance to plant cocoa trees!Q: Was a degree in Food Science always your plan?Peter: Actually, no, I was going to be an ophthalmologist. But at UBC, and other universities I’m sure, you get the chance to tour other departments and get of idea of what they do, what they can teach you. I really connected with the Agricultural Sciences department, I remember thinking it sparked my interest and I just fell in love with it, really. That was it, I switched majors in my second year. Q: Any advice for recent high school grads? Peter: Say yes to a lot of things. You can make a lot of great connections at university that’ll help you later in your career. You can find your niche, find the thing that excites you. It’s a really great time to explore, audit courses that sound interesting, talk to a lot of professors. Just let your curiosity guide you.
c1990: The Time We Created Hedgehogs, Yaaas
As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline. The internet has dubbed the 90s as the best decade ever.Probably because it was the decade when we created Hedgehogs.You can spot Hedgehogs in any Purdys shop by their distinctive box: a golden glorious triangle. We asked Brenda, who’s been with Purdys since 1985 (around the time we introduced an Original), about the design: “I worked together with Mr. Flavelle and the marketing manager at the time on the box itself and the Hedgehog logo. The idea was to have something stand out from the standard rectangular gift boxes. I remember getting really excited about the triangle idea when we talked about it. We knew we had a really great concept there.” The Hedgehog box definitely stands out—but so do the Hedgehogs.Each shell is creamy milk chocolate crafted from 100% sustainable cocoa. (At Christmas, Santa brings dark chocolate Mini Hedgehogs with him. Want to know when they’re coming this year? Get on our email list.)At the heart of each Hedgehog is a special hazelnut gianduja (pronounced jan-DOO-yah).Gianduja is made with finely milled hazelnuts, cocoa powder, cocoa butter and sugar. It was invented during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte (1804-1815) in the city of Turin, in the Piedmont region of Italy.Cocoa was scarce during Napoleonic times, suffering from both high prices and supply issues. So chocolate makers in Turin got creative and added a local tree nut to the cocoa they had: the hazelnut, which grows in abundance in that region even today.In 1865 at the Turin Carnival, local chocolate company Caffarel had the Carnival’s favourite character, Gianduja, hand out these hazelnut chocolates (wrapped in foil) to carnival goers. And the name stuck. Hedgehogs aren’t the only chocolates at Purdys that feature gianduja. There’s the Salted Hazelnut Flake. And Turona, named after a 16th century Spanish confection. And the Coffee Crunch Mayan, the Peanut Butter Crunch Mayan and the Almond Butter Mayan, which you can find in our Favourites or Classics gift boxes or you can request a custom pack of all Mayan chocolates (just leave a note at checkout!).And now, for our last time-travel trip, we’re heading to 2014, when we switched to 100% sustainable cocoa.
Chocolate Bunnies, History Of
The very first written record of any kind of egg-laying bunny comes from the 1600s, in Germany.The Oschter Haws (Easter Hare) brought coloured eggs as gifts for children. In later versions of the story, she hides the eggs in the garden for children to find. Yes, she.The Oschter Haws was decidedly a female hare. Hares have never been domesticated (unlike rabbits) but they are closely related to rabbits. So how did the Oschter Haws become the Easter Bunny, which most people identify as a male rabbit? In the 1700s, German immigrants (later called the Pennsylvania Dutch) brought the Oschter Haws to the Eastern United States—along with an established tradition of chocolate. There’s no record of who invented the chocolate Easter bunny but chances are good it was someone of German descent. Tins for chocolate moulds that date back to 1890 have been found in Munich, Germany. Meanwhile circa 1890 in Pennsylvania, drugstore owner Robert L. Strohecker crafted a 1.5 meter (5’) chocolate rabbit as a way to advertise Easter. And that's all it took. By 1925, chocolate bunnies had, ahem, multiplied in popularity. Some even had accessories like bowties or hats, which gave them a gentlemanly vibe. We dug through the Purdys archives and found a fabulous photo (dating circa 1980s) of chocolate bunnies on display at our Kingsway Factory Kitchen in Vancouver, Canada, which is where we still craft all of our chocolates.The largest bunny on the right is Charles, our 12 kilogram bunny named in honour of Charles Flavelle, then-owner of Purdys Chocolatier. You can still buy Charles today in select Purdys shops (look for him in the display window, you can’t miss him!).And did you know that a group of bunnies is called a fluffle?We have a whole fluffle of chocolate bunnies, some hollow, some solid but all made from only 100% sustainable cocoa, to guarantee a Hoppy Easter for everyone.
Peanut Butter & Jelly, the Re(Invention) of a Classic
Have you ever wondered if there’s anything better than a peanut butter & jelly sandwich? How about Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolate? Chocolatier Rachel McKinley taste-tested lots of peanut butters and types of jellies and jams on her quest to create the chocolatier version of this childhood classic.For one, the texture of the peanut butter (smooth, crunchy, in-between?) plays a huge role in the mouthfeel of a chocolate. Crunchy peanut butter brought the exact flavour profile that Rachel wanted to achieve for the bottom layer of this piece. The peanut butter is blended with milk chocolate (from only 100% sustainable cocoa) into a gianduja (jan-DOO-yah). If you’re a Purdys fan, you’re already familiar with another type of gianduja in our runaway bestsellers, the Hedgehogs. And while grape jelly might be the traditional choice, Rachel paired the crunchy peanut butter ganache with a melt-in-your-mouth raspberry pate de fruit (the elevated French version of a fruit jelly). Wrap it in creamy milk chocolate and you’ve got yourself the makings of a soon-to-be iconic chocolate.The inspiration for our PB&J piece is naturally the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The first known reference to PB&J is in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, authored by Julia Davis Chandler, in 1901. Here’s the excerpt: “For variety, some day try making little sandwiches, or bread fingers, of three very thin layers of bread and two of filling, one of peanut paste, whatever brand you prefer, and currant or crab-apple jelly for the other.”But peanut butter & jelly sandwiches became popular a bit later, starting with the Great Depression in 1929.Peanut butter is high in protein and makes for a filling meal, which was especially helpful for soldiers in World War II. Jelly, bread and peanut butter were staple ingredients in war rations and the peanut butter & jelly sandwich became a popular meal, especially with American soldiers. After the war ended in 1945, the soldiers brought their love of PB&J sandwiches home and it soon became a household staple. And now there’s something even better than a PB&J sandwich. Peanut Butter & Jelly chocolates are available in all Purdys shops and online at purdys.com.
Polar Bears, Chocolates & Ice Cream, Oh My!
We’re setting up shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba at St. Vital Centre! #PurdysinthePeg. It’s a special occasion, and that calls for a few special celebratory things.Like if you’re one of the first 100 people in line on Saturday, Aug 26th (we open at 9:30am), you get a free box of some of our best-loved chocolates, all crafted from only 100% sustainable cocoa.And that day, it’s also buy 1, get 1 free on Original Ice Cream Bars.And we also have the exclusive launch of White Spruce: a dark chocolate ganache, icy fresh peppermint and the bright herbal flavour of white spruce together in a dark chocolate shell speckled with naturally coloured cocoa butter. (Not in Winnipeg? Don’t worry, White Spruce is coming to all Purdys shops soon and we’ll shout it from the treetops when it’s available.)Chocolatier Rachel McKinley, who created White Spruce, actually hails from Stonewall, Manitoba (about 25 kms from Winnipeg). She originally had plans for a career in medicine (just like Peter Higgins, President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier). But one winter, she started personally fundraising with the goal of selling a couple hundred truffles for $1 each to friends and friends-of-friends. She sold 3,000 truffles and picked a new career. Rachel went on to study at Ecole Chocolat, first in their online program and then through several internships across North America, then at the Barry Callebaut Academy in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, where she apprenticed with Master Chocolatier Julian Rose.In 2006, Rachel moved to Vancouver and joined the faculty of her alma mater Ecole Chocolat and journeyed with other chocolatiers to France and Italy to study the art of chocolate-making.And on Saturday, August 26th, Rachel will be live-sculpting a 3 ft. tall polar bear out of chocolate. Follow along on Instagram for updates and photos.
Put on your baking hats, it's World Baking Day!
It's World Baking Day today!That's a whole entire day dedicated to cookies! crumbles! pies! shortbread! cheesecake!It's also exactly 1 month and 1 day to Father's Day, so we thought we'd do something for World Baking Day and create a recipe that's a cool nod to dads everywhere.Enter Shawn Taylor, Culinary Advisor (and Photographer!) at Purdys Chocolatier. As Culinary Advisor, Shawn has created or collaborated on hundreds of both savoury and sweet recipes for Purdys, either online at purdys.com or for our special eBook collections.And as Photographer at Purdys, Shawn has also styled and shot every single one of your favourite chocolates. We know, we know, it's a sweet job and somebody's gotta do it.Shawn (that's him in the photo with his son) is the father of two impossibly adorable children, and he took inspiration from them: "I’m really into baking and cooking, and I love showing my kids how you get to enjoy something you made yourself and how it’s easy to work with chocolate when you follow the steps."Licorice Caramel Shortbread SquaresIngredients:2/3 cup + 1 tbps butter1/4 cup sugar1 1/4 cup flour, sifted10 Purdys Licorice Caramels4 Purdys Vanilla Caramels4 tbsp cream100 g Purdys Classic Dark ChocolateInstructions:Preheat oven to 350°F.Prepare a 9 inch square pan with cooking oil or line with parchment paper.In a medium bowl, use a mixer to cream 2/3 cup butter and sugar together until fluffy.Sift flour and stir it into creamed butter until mixture is evenly crumbly. Be careful not to over mix or shortbread will become tough.Press into a 9 inch square pan and bake for 20 minutes. When finished, set aside to cool.Cut caramels into quarters and melt in saucepan with cream on medium heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Be careful not to burn the mixture as the chocolate will melt quickly but the caramel will need another 1-2 minutes to melt. Continue stirring until emulsified, for another 2-3 minutes.Spread caramel onto cooled shortbread and set aside to cool.Chop dark chocolate into small pieces and melt in heatproof bowl in microwave for 20 seconds at a time until melted. Stir in 1 tbsp butter until mixture is smooth and silky.With a spoon, drizzle the chocolate on top of the caramel layer and chill for 20 minutes in fridge or for 1 hour at room temperature.Cut into 2 inch squares to serve.You can also grab the printable version of this recipe.