Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Purdy's Chocolates: Tasty, Local, Sustainable

I’ve always been a fan of Purdy’s chocolates, bringing them home from trips to British Columbia or Alberta, so I was pleased to hear that they were opening a store in Saskatoon’s Midtown Plaza – and delighted to be invited to a wine and chocolate pairing to celebrate the store’s opening. I came away from the event even happier as I’d learned that Purdy’s chocolates are not just tasty – they’re also fresh, local, and sustainable.

Richard Carmon Purdy started selling homemade chocolates on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver in 1907. Their first chocolate factory was in a house on West 7th, and the company is still located in Vancouver.

The Vanilla Caramel, Dairy Cream, and Marshmallow chocolates are still made using the original 1907 recipes.

Purdy’s uses as many Canadian ingredients as possible. The ice wine is from Mission Hill Winery; the Chardonnay from Quail’s Gate. The mint oil is from Quebec and the Saskatoon berries are from – you guessed it – Saskatoon.

So many chocolates are the product of child labour, miserable working conditions, and environmental destruction. Purdy’s, however, has made a commitment to sustainability. They monitor to ensure that children are in school and not at work, and they provide schools, medical care, business and agricultural training for their workers, particularly women. They also plant banana trees for shade, protect waterways, and work with farmers to improve their agricultural practices to protect the soil and reduce waste.

Purdy’s also supports a number of green initiatives and was awarded the City of Vancouver’s Award of Excellence for Greenest City Leadership in 2015.

Tasty and Fresh
As I browsed the racks, I was impressed by the variety of products Purdy’s produces. One of my favorites is the Sweet Georgia Browns, and I was delighted to discover you can now purchase Mini Sweet Georgia Browns for a bite-sized treat.

I was intrigued by some of the small boxes – Sparkling and Roses, Sakura and Sake, and Pear Lemon Caramel. My new favorite is the Goat Cheese & Chardonnay Truffle – a goat cheese/white chocolate ganache topped with a layer of milk chocolate infused with chardonnay wine, and wrapped in milk chocolate. Seriously delicious!

Purdy’s milk chocolate is a secret blend of milk, dark, and white chocolate. If you’re normally a dark chocolate fan, try the Single Origin Ghana Bar. Most milk chocolate has a 34% cocoa mass content, but this bar is 45% cocoa mass and is conched at a higher temperature so the sugars are caramelized, giving it a richer, deeper flavour.

Purdy’s tries out 150 new chocolate recipes every year – only 6 to 12 of them make the cut. To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Purdy’s is coming out in June with a new collection featuring Smoked Maple, Blueberry, Saskatoon Berry, and one other flavour. The Saskatoon Berry truffles were ready in time for the Saskatoon store opening, and they’re lovely (and I’m not a Saskatoon Berry fan so that’s high praise!).

Purdy’s doesn’t use any preservatives in its chocolates and products are only on the shelf for 3 weeks. Any left after that date are discounted and sold as “almost perfect.”

Wine and Chocolate 
Peter Blanchet, Purdy’s Master Chocolate Connoisseur, took us through a tasting of six chocolates paired with six different wines. If you try this for yourself, make sure that the sweetness level of the wine matches the sweetness level of the chocolate so that they balance each other rather than one overpowering the other. One of the pairings wasn’t a good match, and it proved the point. You really don’t want a super-sweet wine with a less sweet chocolate.

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