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Spotlight on Catherine, from one of our favorite suppliers

The Perfect Puree has been a constant as long as Chocolats Passion has been in business.  Our top selling chocolate, Passion Vanilla, uses their fabulous  passion fruit as the base.  There is none better anywhere, along with a number of others which are used for ganaches and pâtes de fruits. 

Catherine was recently approached about being featured in their "Inspiration" page, where various chefs talk about their work.  Here is a reprint of this lovely piece.

You could say artisan confectioner Catherine Wiersema has chocolate in her blood from her childhood in France, where she made her first (admittedly awful) confection when she was just 10. But that rock-hard hazelnut caramel inspired Catherine’s lifelong love of chocolate and her aptly named Chocolats Passion in the West End neighborhood of Portland, Maine.

Catherine and her team make French-style confections by hand with the highest-quality ingredients. Fair Trade couverture chocolate, local organic cream and butter, hand-picked local fruit and the freshest nuts are de rigueur. Carefully sourced organic citrus is candied by hand the old-fashioned French way for textural flavor inclusions.

Catherine started using The Perfect Purée when she founded her business online in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 2014. She moved to coastal Maine in 2017 and opened a boutique and production space.

“The Perfect Purée has been one of our most central ingredients ever since we started,” Catherine says. “Their clean, pure intensity of flavor just fits our goal to produce confections that never require added flavorings or extracts.”

Recently in addition to chocolates, Catherine began making pâte de fruit as a natural extension of her French repertoire, drawing on a library of flavors from The Perfect Purée including Black Currant, Red Raspberry, Mango, Pear, Pink Guava. Catherine says Pear is especially popular.

“Pâte de fruits are a new offering that has taken off to a surprising degree. The intense, pure taste of pear is unmistakable,” Catherine says.

Like confectioners large and small, Catherine has been challenged by pandemic-related supply chain shortages while trying to keep up with the stream of chocolate holidays from Halloween to Mother’s Day. Valentine’s Day may be the biggest of all, when Chocolats Passion is bursting with collections of artfully decorated heart-shaped chocolates. Each perfectly balanced flavor has the subtle acidity and bitterness tempered by sweetness that’s characteristic of French chocolates. Flavors change regularly and may feature seasonal fruits or surprisingly harmonious pairings like almond and citrus, pistachio and raspberry or passion fruit and vanilla.

Though mostly self-taught, Catherine completed the Professional Chocolatier Program at the woman-owned and operated Ecole Chocolat in 2013. She takes periodic trips to study new methods at Cacao Barry Chocolate Academy in Montreal and once studied with world-renowned chocolatier and cookbook author Ramon Morato.

Her small team includes two pastry chefs turned chocolatiers — Lead Chocolatier Sarah Levine and Chocolatier Darcy Brennan Poor — plus apprentice chocolatier Ruby Bradford, a high school senior who learned to bake while sailing around the world with her family. She recently introduced her first creation, Bergamot, a burst of dark chocolate ganache infused with strong Earl Grey tea and perfumed with orange zest.

Catherine says creativity and uncompromising quality are the hallmarks of her business.

“Our singular focus is to combine great ingredients with French confectionery techniques to produce balanced, deeply flavored chocolates,” she says.