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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).
2014: The Year We Switched to 100% Sustainable Cocoa
As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline. Three years ago, in 2014, we switched to 100% sustainable cocoa. That means that everything we craft at Purdys helps support our cocoa farmer partners through community and farming improvements. While creating an icon, introducing an original, adding milk chocolate to our lineup, buying a farm or trading shaving cream for chocolate shavings are all very sweet moments in our Purdys history, we knew we wanted to end our 110th birthday celebration with what we think is the most important one: switching to 100% sustainable cocoa. For Purdys, sustainable cocoa means helping to improve the lives of our cocoa farmer partners while protecting the environment today and for future generations.For example, our Sustainable Cocoa Program has helped directly contribute to these improvements and special programs in rural cocoa-growing communities: • The expansion or new construction of 6 rural primary schools• The distribution of 675 school kits (i.e. pencils, notebooks)• 9 new primary classrooms, including desks, benches, blackboards and solar panels (for lighting) • 28 new cocoa tree nurseries, generating over 300,000 quality seedlings for farmers to start new cocoa plots or expand their farms• An entrepreneurship program for 200 women cocoa farmers• A special leadership training program attended by 188 women cocoa farmers Peter Higgins, our President and Chocolate Scientist, has personally visited some of the co-ops to which our cocoa farmers belong—and witnessed firsthand the positive impact of our Sustainable Cocoa Program. Peter is also the narrator of our This Bean sustainable cocoa video, which shows you how a single cocoa bean does more than make delicious chocolate. It’s a great summary of what our Sustainable Cocoa Program is all about. Just watch:See?And if you’d like to read more on the two pillars that govern our Sustainable Cocoa Program, we’ve got plenty more facts, photos and videos for you. It's been great fun taking a look back at our 110-year history with you (who knew time travel was this sweet?). Thank you for taking the journey with us. And here's to another 110 years.
63 LifeStraw Community water filters are on their way to Ivory Coast
When Purdys first launched the Clean Water Project, we hoped to raise enough funds for 35 LifeStraw Community water filters. Just one of those filters provides safe, clean drinking water for about 60 children for three whole years so we knew that 35 LifeStraw Community water filters would have a significant impact in our cocoa-growing communities.But your enthusiasm and support for the Clean Water Project saw us smashing that goal of 35 water filters.Thank you again for your incredible help in making safe, clean drinking water possible in rural cocoa-growing communities.In the end, we raised enough funds for 63 filters. That's 28 more filters than we had as our initial goal.Those filters are now on their way to schools and medical centres in cocoa-growing communities in Ivory Coast that are part of our Sustainable Cocoa Program.Our on-the-ground partners there will work with local community leaders to distribute the filters and provide training on their use and care plus important WASH (water, health and hygiene) training for teachers and students.Our Sustainable Cocoa Program itself continues to support programs that build schools, dig water wells and provide medication in these cocoa-growing communities as well as training for cocoa farmers, seeds for them to grow healthier, more productive crops and give them the resources they need to improve their and their family's livelihoods.In a couple of months, we'll have an update on the Clean Water Project that I can't wait to share with you.Talk soon, Peter Peter Higgins, President & Chocolate Scientist at Purdys Chocolatier
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.
c1985: The Time We Introduced an Original
As part of our 110th birthday celebration, we’re taking a look back at some historical (and historic!) moments in our Purdys timeline. In the mid-80s, Charles Flavelle, then-owner of Purdys, received a tip from a mall manager who wanted ice cream sold in the mall. The manager didn’t want a separate business to sell the ice cream, instead looking for a confectionery shop already established in the mall to take it on.At the start, Purdys sold ice cream cones only—but Mr. Flavelle wanted to add another option: ice cream bars. So he took ice cream home, cut it into chunks and experimented with melted chocolate and different toppings until he found it.The Original.Vanilla ice cream dipped in dark chocolate and smothered in roasted almonds.Like so.You can get the Original at any Purdys shop (but not online, as it turns out you can’t easily fit an ice cream bar through a mail slot).Be sure to also try the Ultimate Ice Cream Bar (watch how it's made!), the Sprinkles Ice Cream Bar and the NEW Cookie Crunch Ice Cream Bar, which was inspired by the white chocolate Cookie Crunch BarBehold.Ice cream itself actually dates back to (at least) the 4th century B.C. and it’s believed to have been brought to Europe from China. Originally, it was ice blended with fruits, so more of a sorbet, but as people continued to experiment with flavours and ways to keep the ice cream frozen, it became what we now call ice cream.The ice cream bar was invented much, much later (in 1920) in the United States by Christian Kent Nelson, a confectionery shop owner originally from Gunstrup, Denmark. The story goes that a young customer in the shop couldn’t decide between a chocolate bar or an ice cream sandwich but only had enough money for one or the other.This gave Nelson the idea to create ice cream dipped in chocolate, and called it the “I-Scream Bar”. The name was changed to the Eskimo Bar a year later when Nelson went into partnership with chocolate maker Russell C. Stover. Where to next, time travellers? The 90s, and a certain chocolate with a lot of personality.
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.
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.
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.
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 oven 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!
Matcha, Matcha Man: How matcha green tea became a thing
If you’ve been by our website or a shop recently, you might have spotted Matcha or Matcha Coconut Bar.But what exactly is matcha, how’s it different than other teas and why is our chocolatier Rachel McKinley excited to creatively craft chocolate confections using matcha?Matcha and regular green tea come from the same tea plant, Camellia sinensis, native to China. But sometime in the early part of the 12th century, Japanese Zen Buddhist monks brought back from China a new kind of tea: one that had been steamed and ground into a fine powder.In other words, matcha.And while matcha became less and less popular in China, it became a staple of meditation for Zen Buddhist monks and then a favourite of the warrior class and the Shogun rulers. Today, matcha is essential for tea ceremonies throughout Japan, and around the world it has gained in popularity as an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes.Matcha tea leaves are prepared in a special way. A few weeks before harvesting, the tea bushes are protected from direct sunlight with cloths, and these shaded conditions stimulate the plant to create more chlorophyll and amino acids, deepening the flavour of the tea leaves.Whole leaves are expertly picked, steamed to preserve the colour and nutrients, then dried, deveined and destemmed. The leaves that are deemed ideal for matcha tea are known as tencha.Tencha is ground into a fine powder in a very slow, gentle process done with large granite wheels. The process is done this way to avoid scorching the leaves. That fine powder is called matcha, literally “ground tea”.Matcha has a strong, robust umami flavour that plays really well with cocoa. Try it and delight yourself!
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.
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.
Together, we can help Ecuador & our cocoa farmer partners
UPDATE: Thank you for your incredible help and support! Together, we donated $10,000 to the Canadian Red Cross Ecuador Appeal. If you would like to make a further donation, please contribute at redcross.ca/ecuador. Ecuador experienced one of the largest earthquakes in its recent history this past Saturday, April 16th. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake has caused widespread and extensive damage to homes, infrastructure and tragically, a great loss of life and many injuries to people of all ages. Purdys’ President & Chocolate Scientist Peter Higgins has been in touch with our Sustainable Cocoa partners (TCHO) on the ground in Ecuador. Sadly, the provinces where our Ecuadorian cocoa is grown – Manabí and Esmeraldas – are two of the most badly affected provinces in the country. We have confirmed that a number of cocoa-processing facilities and communities associated with our co-op program have been damaged, but thankfully, with no fatal casualties to report. Our condolences, thoughts and well-wishes go out to all our farmer partners and their families and communities affected by this disaster. In light of these recent events, Purdys would like to show our financial support via a donation to the Canadian Red Cross Ecuador Appeal that is currently providing essential humanitarian assistance in the region. Purdys’ team will continue to stay in touch with our partners at TCHO and provide more updates from our cocoa communities as they become available.
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?