A Melbourne, London & Hong Kong dessert blog
A D-I-Y dessert affair that fuses complex yet easy-to-love dessert craft together with hip-pocket comfort.
One of our first dessert reviews all the way back in 2011 featured a newly opened sweet boutique called Burch & Purchese. When we first visited it, it was an inconspicuous blip on the Melbourne food radar. It didn’t even have its neon-pink signage up yet. We nonetheless recognised it for its cutting-edge and experimental approach to dessert craft, incorporating a myriad of flavours and textures into a single sweet creation. Shortly after that first visit, with thanks to the strange phenomena that is the Masterchef circus, Burch & Purchese became a Melbourne dessert draw-card. It has since extended its dessert range to encompass not only the mousse-cakes that we first sampled, but also a range of open chocolate bars, terribly addictive but out-of-the-reach-of-children’s-pocket-money confectionery (eg, salted caramel chocolate bullions, chocolate lollipops, popcorn honeycomb rubble), baking miscellany of the type that you will not find at your local supermarket (think freeze-dried fruits) and dare we say… a bisected hazelnut and salted caramel spread that if metaphorically spread on the Australian dollar, ought to stop its depreciating value slide. Of late, Burch & Purchese has also hosted 4-course dessert degustation evenings. With each dessert course paired with an alcoholic beverage, it’s $95 pp (spiked to $130 pp recently) price tag could possibly be justified. However, for a non-drinker or a person with a very low alcohol threshold, paying that same price because there is no non-alcoholic option just didn’t sit well with these Dessert Correspondents. So, we did our own, a D-I-Y Burch & Purchese dessert degustation!
One sunny Autumn weekend, we visited Burch & Purchese, and purchased a set of each of its four “Dessert Tubes” ($9) for our small afternoon tea party. The maths: 4 test tube desserts at $9 each = $36 pp. With free, loose-leaf tea from our tea caddy. Change out of $95 pp = $59 pp (enough for a very fine dinner later). Stomach satisfaction: Extremely full. Overall, win!
The first Burch & Purchese test-tube-like dessert that we served up to our party was the “Raspberry, White Chocolate, Honey and Lychee” ($9). Formerly a mousse-cake (and one of our favourites, see previous review here), we do think it probably worked better deconstructed as so. According to its label, this dessert tube comprised “white chocolate and raspberry mousse, raspberry and lychee jelly, muesli and honey nut sponge, raspberry and hibiscus jam, raspberry compote, lychee, exaggerated raspberry cream, and white chocolate velvet spray.” If you can discern each component, we kowtow to you. For us, we loved the half-moon mound of raspberry mousse that perched on the surface and the embedded chunks of sweet lychee swirled within. The honey tones were the least perceptible.
The second dessert tube was the “Caramelised White Chocolate, Banana, Vanilla Cheesecake” ($9). According to its label, this was comprised of “choc hazelnut cream, choc hazelnut, brownie, vanilla cheesecake, cinnamon toffee, caramelized white chocolate mousse, roast banana cream and banana jelly.” No, it was not a deconstructed banana. It was almost like a chai latte, with robust and toasty flavours. The banana flavour was warm and slightly spiced, rather than overwhelming.
For the third dessert tube, we opted to introduce the “Explosive Raspberry Milk Chocolate” ($9). According to its label, its elements included “raspberry and milk chocolate mousse, raspberry custard, raspberry compote, explosive milk choc chip, cookie crumb, exaggerated raspberry cream, raspberry marshmallow and milk chocolate mirror glaze.” This dessert tube was the most disappointing of the quartet selected from Burch & Purchese. There was a meringue droplet, but it was hardly explosive in flavour strength, nor did we perceive any popping candy. Yes, it looked like and tasted like a molecularly reconfigured raspberry.
The fourth, and final dessert tube, was the “Coconut, Passionfruit, Ginger and Mint” ($9). According to its label, it was comprised of layers of “coconut mousse, passionfruit curd, coconut caviar, passionfruit jelly, salted oat and ginger crumble, white chocolate mint wafer and white chocolate spray.” We do think that tapioca pearls are missing from this ingredient list — we are fairly certain we encountered the little beads wrapped in the creamy coconut mousse upper layer. Since our first, and each subsequent visit, this is the Burch & Purchese dessert that we love the most. Tasting like a tropical island on your tongue, it’s the perfect palate cleanser and epilogue to a magnificent dessert feast. The only slight detracting note (on this sampling) was the deflated, chewy yellow disc of something lying adjacent to the surface mousse-mound. If it was an attempt at a macaron, it was b-a-d.
One does not visit Burch & Purchese for generic or traditional desserts. You won’t find a chocolate mud cake, an eclair or a lemon meringue tart. Burch & Purchese has carved a niche for extravagantly complex desserts, and although you will most likely not be able to taste every carefully labelled component without doing a scientific dissection on your dessert plate, one certainly has to appreciate the creativity and effort in each dessert item. We consider the test tube desserts the best products of Burch & Purchese – in terms of one-of-a-kind-ness, flavour and texture experience, and value for money. Truly, if you are ever so inclined to wow your afternoon tea party or dinner party guests with their own dessert degustation experience, there is no better place to visit than Burch & Purchese in Melbourne. They ought to introduce a loyalty stamp card for addicts like us.
- Dessert adventure checklist
- Dessert destination: Burch and Purchese, 647 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Vic 3141
- Budget: $-$$ ($9 per dessert tube)
- Sweet irresistibles: Cake / Dessert degustation.
- Must-eat: The “Coconut Passionfruit” dessert tube.
- The short and sweet story: A D-I-Y dessert affair that fuses complex yet easy-to-love dessert craft together with hip-pocket comfort.