The wonderful world of Burch and Purchese

Posted on July 3, 2011


Burch & Purchese Ingrediants

A Willie Wonka inspired world full of surprise. Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio, provokes dreams from childhood. Smells, colours and tastes of youth are reworked with a modern twist. Tasteful, playful and modern, this is Melbourne’s very own rival to Adriano Zumbo in Sydney. True to the Willie Wonka charactor Augustus Gloop, I was still left expecting and wanting more.

The studio opened in April, created by Ian Burch and Darren Purchese, the British duo mix science with traditional and beloved flavours. Their philosophy is to create a Willa Wonka style experience for customers. Burch and Purchese created a cult following online by creating fanciful and interesting cakes for functions, weddings and anniversaries. I have been twice, before the Masterchef crave and after. Each experience very different from the other. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, smelling like sweet bananas and chocolate. Edible artwork and pastel florals tile the walls. The open kitchen allows customers the chance to meet Darren and Ian, and watch their creations take place. There is a wall filled with hundreds of ingredients, many foreign and unusual.

Upon entering we are offered two samples: a spoonful of passionfruit curd and a piece of freeze-dried honeycomb. The honey comb was very sweet, nothing out of the ordinary whilst the passionfruit curd had just the right amount of sourness. The flavour of salty caramel seemed to be the trend, with salty caramel chocolates, a chocolate and Murray river sea-salt cake and take home jars of salty caramel.

Apart from the smell that entices you before you have reached the door, I almost missed the place driving past. Perhaps a bigger sign is an order. There are rows of chocolate blocks and sugary delights, ice-cream tubs and take home jars of jam and sweet condiments. Though what I came here for is the cake. After an agonising twenty minutes of indecisive banter, I chose the Tarakan 75% chocolate, pear and hazelnut cake and Mr M chose the caramelised white chocolate cake with banana, macadamia and passionfruit. I’m a sucker for food trends so I indulged in a jar of salty caramel and salty caramel chocolates.

The salty caramel chocolates are affordable and worth coming back for. The chocolate surrounding the salty caramel was glass like, shattering in the mouth, melting perfectly. Usually when I try salty caramel chocolate, the chocolate is too thick that I miss the taste of the caramel. Here it is the opposite. Very clever.

The Tarakan 75% dark chocolate, hazelnut and pear cake was not excessively sweet, the dominant flavour was hazelnut. I would have liked a bolder taste of pear, however the hazelnut milk jelly was a nice hidden surprise and complemented the dark chocolate mousse perfectly. The amount of time and effort given to presentation and the layers of alternative textures showed off an experienced and clever touch. Although it looked heavy this treat left me wanting more, which I presume is the desired effect.

Caramelised white chocolate, banana, macadamia and passionfruit.

I’m not usually a fan of white chocolate, this cake is the exception. Mr M chose the caramelised white chocolate cake, and thankfully shared a miniscule piece with me. By the time I had two bites of mine, he had finished. The caramel flavour marries with the banana, these are the two dominating flavours. Like the first cake, there is a passionfruit jelly inside, which had the most natural passionfruit flavour and a velvety texture. I couldn’t entirely taste the macadamia, but enjoyed it anyway. I loved this dessert. It was rich, milky and creamy, exactly what a dessert should be.

After such a positive experience, I returned on a Thursday after the duo were featured on Masterchef. The sales assistant divulged that they had sold out of all cakes on the previous Sunday due to the Masterchef hype. Thankfully, the mandarin, chocolate and salty caramel cake had just been made, so I waited. The cake consisted of Kenari 60% chocolate mousse, Murray River salted caramel, mandarin cream, marmalade, chocolate shortcake and a mirror glaze. I also bought the coconut, passionfruit curd and ginger cake. The cake consisted of coconut mousse, passionfruit curd, coconut caviar, passionfruit jelly, oat and ginger crumble, ginger macaron, and a white chocolate wafer.

The dark chocolate was very rich, a couple of bites was plenty. It was sickly sweet and could do without the heavy glaze. I expected the mandarin flavour to be more dominant, and was disappointed when it was just a small garnish on top of the dessert.

The coconut and passionfruit cake was my least favourite of the four. The macaron tasted old, and the ginger wasn’t pleasant. It tasted like the macaron had been refrigerated next to a ginger stir-fry overnight. The amount of passionfruit curd in the dessert was too tart. The serving container made it difficult to blend the flavours. I was left with an “eggy” taste in my mouth, which tainted my overall experience.

My experience at the Sweet Studio was overall positive, exciting flavours, modern techniques and helpful staff. However I think the establishment would be enhanced with a small eat-in section. There were numerous ice-creams I would have tried had there been seating. We had travelled without the intention of heading home straight away, so we ate our cakes in the cold. In time, I feel this would be a positive move for the duo. Nothing reminiscent of the institution of Brunetti, perhaps minimal seating, with french lemonades. I learned from the sales assistant during my second visit that they had plans in the future to open an off-site cafe, she asserted that they did not want to compromise on flavours for a cafe just yet. I was slightly disappointed on my second visit, I think consistency is important. The pricing is affordable and you will leave with a piece of artwork for the money. I anticipate returning to sample their range of ice-cream.

If you are after something exciting which will challenge your pallete and humour you, I would head to the Chapel street studio immediately. Something tells me the Masterchef groupies will come in their hoards! I hope that Ian and Dan will not sacrifice on quality to feed the masses. An interesting sweet haven, worth a visit. Choose wisely and stay clear of the curd varieties.

Sweet Studio
647 Chapel Street
South Yarra

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

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