WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - One of the newest eateries in West Monroe is Miss Kay's Sweets and Eats. But it's not Miss Kay in the kitchen; it's her granddaughter Alex.
Dessert Dynasty (Courtesy: KNOE)
You would think Alex Mancuso comes by her baking skills naturally, being that her grandmother is Miss Kay Robertson. Alex is the daughter of the 'beardless' brother Alan and his wife Lisa.
"There's so many great cooks in my family that when I lived at home I never had to cook for myself," Mancuso said.
It wasn't until she went to college at LSU that she learned to cook, so she wouldn't starve. But after a few years pursuing a degree in English, she decided it wasn't a good fit. That's when the Louisiana Culinary Institute in Baton Rouge caught her eye.
"I just happened to drive by the Louisiana Culinary Institute," Mancuso said. "I went and looked by the end of the tour I was signing up to be a student."
So with a culinary degree in hand, with an emphasis in pastry, she came home to West Monroe. The store's location in Antique Alley used to be an old gas station, but after renovations and remodeling, it's the perfect place to showcase her and Miss Kay's talents. 80 percent of the baked goods come straight from the matriarch's cookbook.
"That's pretty much how we do it." Mancuso said. "Some of them we had to get a magnifying glass. They're all smudged from her grandmother from 80 years ago. She wants us to be authentic."
Surprisingly though one of the most popular items at the bakery are Phil's pralines. He even has a YouTube video explaining his technique. For many professional bakers who live and die by a candy thermometer, it's a bit bumfuzzling, but it works!
The magic to the pralines at Miss Kay's is not putting a candy thermometer in; it's actually using a timer down to a tee. Once the mixture boils, set your timer for 3 minutes and 40 seconds. Phil says 50 licks after that will give you a perfect praline.
"Once your timer goes off you add in your nuts and butter and then you give it, he says 50 good licks. So for him that's a pretty strong lick, for us we go about 70 to 75 cause our arms are smaller and weaker," Mancuso said.
Another ingredient in this business is faith. Alex encourages prayer, bible study and church gatherings here. So not only is your sweet tooth satisfied, but your spiritual hunger is quenched as well.
Miss Kay's will soon start serving light lunch in addition to the biscuits and sweet treats.