Sweet, sugar-coated and spectacularly pink: these tiny caramelised almonds are a taste of childhood no matter what your age is. Although the French capital of gastronomy may be known for its saucissons, quenelles and bouchons, it also has its fair share of sweet specialities. Pralines are a popular sweet treat found across France, but Lyon’s fluorescent-pink sugary shells immediately catch the eye of passers-by. Whilst popular in chocolate, the Lyonnais have found many ways to add a touch of colour to many recipes. These sugar-coated almonds form the base of many praline-based treats, which are the perfect mid-afternoon goûter or dessert for those with a sweet tooth. Nearly all bouchons (restaurants) will serve tarte aux pralines for dessert. Crushed and cooked with cream, pralines add a nutty crunchiness to the irresistibly sweet and sticky filling which will keep your mouth glued shut until dinner time. Another well-known praline-inspired speciality is the brioche aux pralines, which was made famous by baker Auguste Pralus in 1955, coining it as the ‘Praluline’. You may also see this called a brioche de Saint-Genix which comes from Saint-Genix-sur-Guiers in the Rhône-Alpes region. Other combinations you may want to try are praline cake, biscotti, meringue, ice-cream and even praline chocolate mousse.
The recipe for praline was originally created by Clément Jaluzot, who was head chef for a Marshal in Montargis in north-central France. Seeing how well his chef’s pralines had gone down at his dinner party, Marshall Plessis-Praslin claimed the recipe as his own. Pink pralines are unique to Lyon, yet the story behind the sweet’s neon pink colour remains a bit of a mystery. If you ask most people why the pralines here are pink, they’ll admit that they are just as clueless as you are. A simple shrugging of shoulders and a mutter about food colouring is usually the answer. In the eighteenth-century, a Lyonnais pastry chef was apparently inspired by the rose gardens in the Rhône region and tinted his pralines in a similar pink in his copper mixing machine. This proved to be a hit with customers and the rose-coloured praline tart was born. Whatever the true story, these delicious classics are a must try for any gourmands.
Where to go:
Pralus: 32, rue de Brest Lyon 2e (Métro Cordeliers)
Boulangerie du Palais: 8 rue du Palais de Justice 5e (Métro Vieux Lyon)
À la Marquise: 37 rue St Jean 5e (Métro Vieux Lyon)
Boulangerie Jocteur: Four locations in Lyon: http://www.boulangeriejocteur.com/