I know-- more sugar and more fried food, but I couldn't take you through a culinary tour of New Orleans without sharing this recipe (I promise to get to some heart healthy foods real soon). Along with Mardi Gras, another thing people associate with New Orleans (especially if they have paid a visit to the city of jazz) are the beignets (prounced ben-yay and literally means bump) from Café du Monde. Mmmm--beignets. I remember my parents taking me and my sisters there, each one of us trying to out do the other blowing the powdered sugar off of the fried dough. The warm pillows were tender, a little crispy, and darn near perfect. Predictably, we polished off every last one with gusto.
Although I know I am a long way from Jackson Square, I still need my beignet fix every now and then. Sure, they do sell a Café du Monde beignet mix (and it does produce a fine product) at my local store, but you should know me by now. I like to steer clear of boxed mixes as much as I can and go homemade.
There are quite a few recipes out there for homemade beignets, but the one problem I had with them is that they all require a rising time! Wouldn't that produce a bready/cakey doughnut? Café du Monde beignets have a hollow bump. I know from the box mix that their beignets do not have a rise-- just mix, cut, and fry. I even checked the back of the box at the store for the leavening agents used and it read, yeast, and/or baking powder, baking soda. And/or? That made me think of a waffle recipe that I have that uses two of the leaveners with no rising time and that recipe produces crisp and fluffy waffles. So-- I went with the best recipe I had and added the extra leavening agent. The results...
Perfectly "souffled" beignet goodness! Normally I don't like pictures of food that have been bitten into, but I made an exception so you could see for yourself. Crisp, tender, and a that perfect hollow bump!! It has been a few years since I tasted the real deal, but I have to admit that these might taste even better. Probably has to do with being homemade. A little love is added in the mix.
The recipe calls for just a half a cup of evaporated milk. What to do with the leftover? 1. Make another batch of homemade beignets ☺or 2. Make a pot of Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese for dinner--yum!
makes about 2 dozen
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup 2% evaporated milk
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten and at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons (1-ounce) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
Confectioners' sugar (lots of it)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast and one tablespoon of the sugar in the warm water until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, egg, vanilla, butter, remaining sugar, baking soda, salt, and flour. Beat on medium high speed for 1 minute until a sticky dough has formed. Transfer the dough to a well floured work surface, dust with more flour, and roll to an 1/8 inch thickness. Using a pastry wheel, cut the dough into 2 inch squares with some irregular shapes around the edges.
Preheat the oil to 370° F. Gently drop the squares, a few at a time, into the hot oil. Once they have risen and puffed, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining dough. Generously dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from foodnetwork.com