Her favorite toys are unsalted butter, good chocolate and heavy cream. Everything she makes is from scratch and everything she makes ' depending on her whim ' rotates on several menus in town. If you've got an envie for White Chocolate Bread Pudding, look no further than Charley G's. Got a taste for Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Truffles? Find someone with a membership to Le Triomphe. Her signature at Masala is an Indian-inspired White Chocolate Cup with Mango Mousse. And at the new Picante on Ambassador Caffery, a Mexican classic, Tres Leches, is the star of the dessert menu.
Barras spends her time between the four kitchens, whipping up standards and dreaming up new combinations, building a reputation for such exquisite desserts that even the most jaded diner saves a little space for her sweet treats. She's always been interested in food (her grandmothers taught her to bake), but her career plans definitely didn't include butterfat and hot fudge. An Ohio native, Barras was pursuing a degree as a dietitian at Ohio University and moonlighting as a dishwasher when she fell off the wagon.
"I was washing dishes at the Yacht Club, then they moved me up to salads, then I was cooking on the line and somewhere along the way, I fell in love with pastry," she says. She studied under a French and a Canadian pastry chef, one who revealed the secrets of chocolate and another who taught her the light-handed work of pastry dough and sugary confections.
Nineteen years ago, she arrived in Lafayette and got a job invigorating the food service at Lafayette General Medical Center. Oil was king in Lafayette, and the hospitals were fÃªting their doctors; LGMC tried to lure them in its doors by hiring Barras to make pastries exclusively for the medical staff. Business was good at the hospital, and Barras started selling cakes to the public. "That was back in the day of [Lafayette General CEO] J.J. Burdin," Barras says. "When I worked there, we actually made good food come out of the hospital kitchen. His philosophy was good food would make people feel better and get healthy faster." A dozen years later, the hospital downsized, and pastries disappeared from the food service.
Barras began freelancing for the dessert carts at local restaurants, concocting specialties to suit the character of the different menus. Monday, Wednesday and Friday she can be found in Charley G's kitchen. "Charley G's has a local flair. They always have to have bread pudding, crÃ¨me brÃ»lÃ©e, pecan pie and the Sugarbuster chocolate mousse." Don't let that mousse fool you; while the only sugar comes from the high quality semi-sweet chocolate, it's enriched with whipped, heavy cream. "It may be low sugar," she says, "but it's not fat free." The rest of the dessert cart is up to the imagination of Barras, and that's the same sort of arrangement she has with Le Triomphe, Picante and Masala. "This week, I made a chocolate raspberry mousse, coconut cake, a flourless chocolate cake topped with tiramisu mousse, and a pineapple cake, along with the house specialties."
And what does Barras serve at her house for the holidays? Pumpkin cheesecake. "People might not think they like pumpkin," she says, "but one taste, and I've got them hooked."
Graham cracker crust
1 Â½ cups graham cracker crumb
1/3 cup melted butter
Blend together and press into the bottom of a greased spring form pan. Set aside.
1 Â½ pounds cream cheese
Â½ cup sugar
Â½ teaspoon vanilla
Cream together with an electric mixer. Set aside.
1 cup sugar
Â¾ cup solid pack pumpkin
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 Â½ teaspoon mace
1 Â½ teaspoon ginger
Fold together in a separate mixing bowl. Blend well with the cream cheese mixture by hand.
Pour into spring form pan, bake in a water bath at 300 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife comes out clean when tested in the center of the cake. Chill before cutting. (Barras wraps her spring form pans with aluminum foil to keep the water out of her cake pans in case they leak.)
TRES LECHES CAKE
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
9 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
9 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk; beat well after each addition. In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until whites form stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter using a rubber spatula. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
Condensed Milk Topping
2 cups half and half
1 (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
In a small bowl, stir together the 2 cups half and half, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Pour the mixture over the cake until it won't absorb any more and let soak overnight.
Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white sugar
The next day whip the chilled whipping cream with the sugar, pipe over soaked cake. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.
SUE'S LITTLE CUP OF JOE
1 pound of moulding chocolate (available at Party Time on Pinhook)
Blow up 10 balloons to the size of the cup you want. Then dip them into melted molding chocolate and place them onto a cookie pan lined with wax paper, put them into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes then re-dip and chill for 2 hours. At this time you can pop the balloon and remove it, and you have a cup. If you want it to look like a coffee cup, make a handle out of the same chocolate by piping it into a "S" shape, chill, then attach it with some melted chocolate. Keep in a cool area until you are ready to fill.
Â½ pound cream cheese
Â½ cup sugar
Â¼ to Â½ cup Kahlua liquor depending on how strong you want the coffee flavor to be
Cream together. Set aside.
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
Whip together. Fold all but Â½ cup of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and pipe into your coffee cups. Garnish with remaining Â½ cup of whipped cream.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain tight enough in the polls to leave the outcome in doubt.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Hot style for fans (and beyond) > The easy dress for game day is perfectly done for fall with a flat boot. And few colors make a statement like bold red. Perfect for Cajun girl fans now and everyone all year long. Brother's on the Blvd. is home to this precious little red dress that can do day with brown boots or night with sexy heels. At Maven Womenswear the body con midi dress is just right for low moto boots. And at Vertage a red dress with stripe trim is laid back cool with bare legs or svelte leggings.
Four bedroom Acadian or three bedroom traditional
Prestigious honor annually recognizes a single attorney for excellence in public interest/pro bono work.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
"I have never seen anyone who worked harder for our people than Sen. Mary Landrieu, so I would like to share a synopsis of a few of the many things she has done to help Louisiana."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
Three bedroom Acadian or a two bedroom town home
Ready to geaux in purple and gold
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
The recently established Downtown Lafayette Restaurant & Bar Association will host a special viewing of the upcoming New Orleans Saints taking on the Carolina Panthers in the open air of Parc Sans Souci on Thursday, Oct. 30.
Belief in a national outbreak of the Ebola zombie virus is becoming more of a threat every day, and The Hayride — Louisiana’s one true bastion for unrelentingly conservative political commentaries — thought it wise to share a certain special someone's “important message” with readers Tuesday on what to do when, not if, it comes.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
JPMorgan Chase is giving $1 million to Louisiana's community and technical colleges, to help with workforce training efforts to match students to available jobs.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.