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.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
Three bedroom Port Barre cottage or three bedroom historic district Opelousas home
No laboring for shoppers this holiday
It will be next month before Gov. Bobby Jindal will likely get a chance to change the membership of a South Louisiana flood board that is suing dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seenh on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
Dogs get back-to-school blues; mother pleads for release of journalist; ice bucket challenge and more national and international news for Thursday, August 28, 2014.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage
Snuggle worthy wear
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Louisiana's Republican governor has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally using federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Newly established honor recognizes outstanding local attorneys; Neuner and McGoffin win President's Award; and Blanchard named Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Daily paper constructing new digs near production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near I-10.
Investigation finds Arnaud’s Furniture, Carroll Building Specialties and Crazy Charlie’s Shoes running misleading going-out-of-business sales.
Critics say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration's mismanagement of their program.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
"This is yet another example of the failed leadership and lack of focus that Hunter Beasley has exhibited. He’s shown zero regard for kids, teachers or even passing a budget for the school year that’s already started."