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December 12, 2021

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A sweet taste of France near your doorstep

You don’t have to travel all the way to France to enjoy chewy, slightly springy, delicately flavored choux à la crème.

Head to the recently opened Praline in Jing’an District, a pinkish heaven of sweet treats that will definitely win over the city’s pastry fanatics with a great selection of bite-sized cream puffs.

The space is lovely with a hot pink logo and natural elements like cacti in different unique forms.

Praline was hatched out of two friends’ shared passion for food and patisserie. Indonesian-Chinese Budhi Firmansyah’s path to the world of patisseries started in childhood, learning techniques and a love of flavor from the family business run by his mother and grandmother in Indonesia.

He spent 15 years in the advertising world, working with major international brands across the Asia-Pacific region. In 2018, he rediscovered the family talent for baking and a love of sweet treats during a quest to create the perfect macarons.

In 2020, he met his current business partner. The duo discovered how similar they are in terms of likes and working.

“Both of us like baking and food in general, fashion, fitness and travel,” Firmansyah said. In pursuit of a childhood dream, they decided they should channel their love for baking, technique and marketing into something — which manifested in Praline. They chose the vibrant and hip northern Jing’an area to open the first Praline cafe.

“There is so much potential in this neighborhood, with so many cafes and restaurants opening,” he said.

“As the name goes, Praline is basically a French confectionery containing nuts — predominately almonds and sugar. I personally love praline; it’s so simple and yet so delicious.

“And the French use it as a base for many creams in their patisseries, as well as fillings for chocolates, so it’s versatile and a perfect partner for so many of our favorite recipes,” he added. Praline is authentically French, but with a twist.

“We cater to local taste buds, which means lowering the sugar content and making it less ‘intimidating,’ Firmansyah said.

“We realize that these days it’s all about the look. Cameras eat first. So, all of our desserts are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the taste buds. The marketing also needs to appeal to the younger generation, so we offer fresh looks on design and packaging, which are also perfect for gifting.”

The cone-shaped package for 16 pieces of choux is inspired by the pièce montée en choux, a traditional French wedding-style cake consisting of cream puffs piled into a cone — a unique gift for the holiday season.

Praline’s speciality choux a la creme is filled with a variety of flavors and textures, from the smooth and rich chocolate cremeux and velvety matcha diplomat cream to the tangy kick of lemon curd.

“Apart from that, we have created “3D cookies,” named as such because they’re packed with so much more than usual.

“Choose from almond butter cookies with praline, caramelized almond clusters and caramel onctueux drizzle if you like something classic; or raspberry 3D cookies with a raspberry jelly center, fruit caramel and fresh raspberries on top if you like a dash of tanginess. We bring cookies to the next level, and they’re predominantly made with almond butter, so they’re quite wholesome as well.”


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