A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog
When dessert-making incorporates analytical science, the results are unique, intriguing yet sometimes overly complicated.
South Yarra and its Chapel Street precinct is Melbourne’s Rodeo Drive – home to frenetic shopping, orange tanned bodies, boozy nights, big brands, big hair, bigger cars and cash. A distance away from the bustling shopping area, the facade of the recently-opened Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio resembles the outside of one of its signature mousse-cake creations. A bare painted off-white frontage, with the only embellishment being a neon pink crown above its entrance. Epitomising the proverb “do not judge a book by its cover,” at first glance, both the Sweet Studio and its signature irresistibles evoke an air of modern minimalism. Beyond the surface however, they are internally intricate creations. MoMo & Coco couldn’t think of a better place to solicit some exquisite irresistibles to commemorate the end of three months of one part of us entering the workforce, and also a related entity’s wish to celebrate some royal wedding far far away.
In the traditional way, we prepared a two-tiered stand of finger ribbon sandwiches, and a platter of scones.
For the more carnivorous part of MoMo & Coco, we included a dish of more meaty savouries, albeit of the gourmet type (mind the photos).
And because it was quite a lovely sunny day, Pimms poured into the family’s special occasion crystal decanter and champagne glasses was our drink of choice.
But the attention must now be drawn to the Burch & Purchese irresistibles. The following are five items from the Autumn seasonal cake menu ($9 each). They are also available as full-size cakes for prices beyond the average cake shop ($45 for 6-portioned-cake, $95 for 16-portioned cake and $170 for 24-portioned cake). MoMo & Coco generally do not prefer mousse-based desserts (as you might have noticed in our pre-blog irresistible honours list). However, we must say that a few of the Burch & Purchese irresistibles that we purchased for afternoon tea that afternoon were quite…hmmmmm… irresistible…
The first mousse-cake to be sampled was the delicately sublime, “Violet, White Chocolate, Vanilla and Toasted Peanut.” The menu described this as containing “lemon shortbread, chocolate and violet wafer, Jaina 31% white chocolate and vanilla mousse, violet cream and lemon curd, and toasted pine nut butter.” An all-round favourite.
The second mousse-cake was the luminous “Roast Pumpkin, Milk Chocolate, Nut Butter and BACON.” The menu described this as containing “olive oil sponge, milk chocolate mousse, spiced Nayarit 37% chocolate cream, pumpkin mayonnaise, bacon bits, maple syrup jelly spheres and chocolate velvet spray.” The Coco of MoMo & Coco insisted on ordering this creation the moment “bacon” was cited. However, while the bacon bits did not infuse any significant meaty taste to the mousse-cake, the use of nut butter and pumpkin combined to result in a rather “interesting” flavour…
The third mousse-cake was the very pretty “Raspberry, Champagne, Lychee and White Chocolate.” The menu described this as containing “yoghurt and white chocolate sponge, exaggerated raspberry mayonnaise, fresh and freeze dried lychees, choc-coated puff wheat, raspberry champagne mousse, Gosset Champagne jelly and white chocolate spray.” Given our lack of culinary training, MoMo & Coco failed to detect a champagne or lychee flavour. Nonetheless, this irresistible was overwhelmingly and beautifully evocative of a field of berries, with a lovely textural surprise provided by the base of small puff wheat balls.
The fourth mousse-cake was the “Chocolate, Mandarin, Murray River Salted Caramel.” The menu described this rich number as containing “choc aerated shortbread, burnt mandarin cream, Kendari 60% chocolate mousse, St. Clements marmalade, and chocolate glaze.” Notwithstanding the ingredients list, this mousse-cake was suprisingly gently flavoured. Yet, it had the densest mousse texture of the irresistibles sampled, and therefore, most astonishingly for a mousse-cake, made MoMo & Coco rather full.
The palate cleanser item for MoMo & Coco’s afternoon tea session was the fifth Burch & Purchese irresistible – the “Coconut, Passionfruit, Ginger and Mint” dessert cylinder. The menu described this as containing “passionfruit curd, coconut caviar, salted oat and ginger biscuit crumble, coconut mousse, ginger macaron, and mint and white chocolate wafer.” It was a molecular breakdown of the larger mousse-cake version. A symphonic quartet of textures and tropical flavours, this irresistible had the most strongly-manifested flavours of all the Burch & Purchese irresistibles sampled.
Burch and Purchese’ mousse-cake creations are truly unique — they are beautiful on the surface, intricate on the inside. There’s simply no other specialty cake sweet boutique quite like it in Melbourne. Yet, the very intricacy of their constructions is a double-edged sword. In great honesty, the various described components of each mousse-cake in the best terms, are subtle, and in the worse, tend to become lost in expression, with maybe no more than 2-3 components really strongly manifesting. MoMo & Coco can’t overlook the use of mousse as the predominant cake base either — mousse allows creations to be refridgerated and kept longer before purchase/consumption. Freshness (or lack thereof) cannot arguably, be so disguised in a flour-based cake base. Nonetheless, (a few of) Burch & Purchese’s creations is to mousse-cake what Calvin Klein is to fashion. Modern, minimalistic, understated, irresistible, with perhaps a little touch of Alexander McQueen for unique difference. One would be hard-pressed to find more exquisite creations for that impressive afternoon tea cake stand …hmmmmm…irresistible…
- Dessert adventure checklist
- Dessert destination: Burch and Purchese, 647 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Vic 3141.
- Budget: $$-$$$.
- Sweet irresistibles: Cake.
- Must-eat: The “Dessert Cylinders” and the “Raspberry, Champagne, Lychee and White Chocolate” mousse-cake.
- The short and sweet story: When dessert-making incorporate analytical science, the results are unique, intriguing yet sometimes overly complicated.