KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 — If you have read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, you might remember a remarkable word the author employs with enthusiasm and empathy. The word is Attraversiamo, which is Italian for "Let’s cross over.”
Maybe just a shift in perspective, maybe a journey. A transcendental experience.
Which one might use to describe these modest soufflés: an impossible triumph of sweet and bitter, moist and custardy in equal measure. The intense dusting of cocoa powder, the deep chocolate flavour and hint of coffee notes.
These are the chocolate and mocha soufflés by Thru, a home-based, online micro-bakery.
What sets it apart from the usual fare you’d get in a fancy French restaurant is the exhortation to enjoy these soufflés both warmed and chilled.
Thru is run by 23-year-old Yong Yun Ling, who had studied psychology. However the self-professed foodie has always been interested in baking.
She recalls, "Like many people, I started to bake more frequently during the lockdown while I was still in my final year. After graduating in 2020, I worked as an ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) Therapist for one and a half years before deciding to pursue my Masters degree. A few months before it started, I thought of tackling a new challenge.”
That new challenge turned out to be chasing her long held dream of owning "a small bakery shop or coffee truck, with the concept of grab and go or drive through. This is something I want to do in the future, so I thought of starting small with an online business first.”
That truck and drive through idea stayed with Yong, which is why she decided to name her fledgling business "Thru” or as she puts it: "It can simply mean something — the chocolate and mocha soufflés — is coming through to you. We are bringing happiness to you through our baked goods.”
Thru’s first offerings are the signature chocolate and mocha soufflés. Chocolate is always popular, of course, and a hint of coffee in the mocha would appeal to many an espresso drinker.
Yong explains, "Since my family loves coffee, I tried adding coffee grounds in the soufflés which tasted good too! The hint of bitterness from coffee complements the sweetness of soufflés.”
Yet even the simplest products require a fair bit of trial and error. Yong says, "I remember baking chocolate soufflés for the first time using a 6-inch cake mould as I didn't have a ramekin back then. I chilled it in the fridge as I didn't know soufflés were supposed to be consumed while they are hot!”
Even novices can stumble upon happy accidents, however. Yong explains, "After chilling them overnight, I cut the soufflé like how I would cut a normal cake. My family and I tried it and the texture was like soft cheesecake or tiramisu, it was so moist and rich with chocolate flavour.”
What the soufflés lost in the iconic steam-wafting and almost custardy texture, Yong found they gained in intensity of flavour. The texture, while different, was appealing in a different way, particularly for an audience that wasn’t attuned to how soufflés "ought” to be eaten.
Yong adds, "I shared it with my friends and they liked it too. Some of them mentioned that they had never seen and tried something like that before. So I did some research on soufflés locally, and found out that soufflés are mostly sold in a form of pancake in Malaysia, but rarely in a ramekin.”
After further testing, trying out her soufflés both while they were hot and also after chilling them, she decided that both were winning approaches. She explains, "Either way, the texture was fluffy and moist. That’s how I thought of selling them as it’s quite a niche in the market.”
Beyond capitalising on a relatively untapped market segment — soufflés are typically made to order in restaurants or cafés, rather than sold via delivery or pick up — Yong also wanted to position her brand as something more down-to-earth, rather than perfectionist.
Case-in-point: Most customers identify with soufflés as hot desserts, straight from the oven, yet Thru is an online/delivery setup for now.
Yong says, "Yes, the downside is that soufflés fall as soon as they are taken out from the oven. So they may be less appealing after chilling than when it’s served hot, straight from the oven. Flavour-wise, it still tastes the same even after it falls. The texture will be less soft, but many of our customers think that it’s still soft and moist.”
Naturally, to ensure the products arrive to customers in the best condition possible, some adjustments have to be made. For instance, in lieu of porcelain ramekins, paper cupcake moulds are used, lined with butter and sugar.
Yong adds, "We prepare the chocolate base the previous night and mix this with whipped egg whites (meringue) the next morning before baking, and customers would receive them between 11am-3pm.”
Taking the time to explain how best to enjoy their products, the way a ramenya who specialises in tsukemen might offer instructions on how to dip the noodles in the condensed broth, is now standard procedure for Thru.
Yong says, "We recommend that our customers taste our soufflés at room temperature and also after they’ve been chilled in the fridge, so they get to experience the difference. From the feedback we received, some enjoy them chilled as the soufflés are then cold and moist like tiramisu.”
Currently Thru’s soufflés are available for delivery and pick up on Fridays and Saturdays only. Yong says, "Preparation happens on Thursday and Friday while baking is on Friday and Saturday morning. My sisters are assisting me in operations and recipe modifications.”
The rest of the week is spent taking orders, planning social media content and purchasing ingredients. Recipe development is always ongoing as Thru plans to roll out more flavours of soufflés.
One such new addition, just released last month, is their Lemon Passion Fruit Soufflé. Yong shares, "This tangy soufflé contains passion fruit pulp and lemon juice. It’s garnished with icing sugar, passion fruit, lemon zest, and dehydrated lemon. It gives you a refreshing lemon aroma and fruity taste that cleanses your palate, perfect for a light dessert.”
Whether you opt for the chocolate and mocha or the tart pairing of lemon and passion fruit, Thru’s soufflés do invite you to cross over, to transcend, if only for the span of each bite and its lingering aftertaste.
Pick up a spoon, dig in, savour the taste and texture. And perhaps whisper gently, "Attraversiamo.”
DM to pre-order 2 days before. Delivery/self pickup within Klang Valley on Fri & Sat only.