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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

French Quarter Beignets







Photo courtesy of Ron Dauphin

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A still warm beignet cloaked in confectioners' sugar must be included on the long list of pleasures that is New Orleans. To have beignets, in various shapes, with mugs of steaming coffee at the Cafe du Monde, or elsewhere in the French Quarter of the city, is a near perfect way to start a day or end a night of revelry. While I can't take you there, I can show you how to enjoy this treat in your own kitchen with a quiet cup of coffee and a table and floor relatively free of sticky powdered sugar. While I've tried, I can't find a way to keep the powdered sugar off your face. Everyone will know exactly what you've been doing. For the uninitiated, a beignet is a warm, crisp piece of fried dough that is topped with a heavy layer of confectioners' sugar. Food historians believe French colonists brought beignets to New Orleans in the 18th century. Some believe the Ursaline nuns brought the recipe with them from France, others believe the Acadians, who were expelled from Nova Scotia, introduced them to the people of New Orleans. No one is sure how the donuts got their name. The Celts had a word "bigne" that meant to raise. The French called donuts "beignet". We know for sure that beignets are made with yeast and while they are allowed to slowly rise, how they got their name is not at all important to those who love them. This recipe makes about 48 donuts. The good news is that the dough keeps well for about five days when it's refrigerated. That's important on several levels. Though beignets should be thought of as a dessert and can be eaten anytime, once fried and cool they quickly lose their appeal. Day old, they become bird-fodder or the base for bread pudding. You can cut this recipe in half to produce a less gargantuan quantity. These should always be served warm. If I haven't frighted you away and you actually make these, I know you'll love them. They are addictive. Here's the recipe for your downfall.

French Quarter Beignets...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Paula Deen and others

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature slightly beaten
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1/4 cup shortening, melted and cooled to room temperature
Nonstick spray
Oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar

Directions:
1) Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
2) In another bowl, beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Whisk egg mixture into yeast mixture.
3) Mix 3 cups of flour into yeast mixture. Add shortening and continue to stir while adding remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
4) Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
5) Place confectioners' sugar in a paper or plastic bag. Set aside.
6) Roll dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until golden color. Drain on paper towels for a few seconds then place in bag with confectioners' sugar and toss to thickly coat. Serve warm. Continue until all beignets have been fried and coated. Yield: 48 donuts.

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This post is being linked to:

Wild Yeast - Yeast Spotting

40 comments:

Maria said...

I have never had a beignet. Gasp:) I better take a trip to New Orleans or make your recipe:)

Bama Belle said...

I just made Beignets for Valentine's day! I am posting them Friday for Foodie Friday! I made them into hearts instead of square for the holiday. I grew up in New Orleans so Beignets are close to my heart. They remind me of my childhood!

bj said...

These are one of my very favorite desserts...o my...I do love them and make them quite often. Probably, now that you have reminded me of them...I will have to make some for tonight...

Claudia said...

Oh - evaporated milk! I must try these on a weekend when all are home to partake! Nothing like a fresh beignet!

Bob said...

I've never even heard of those wonderful sounding things. I must try them.

Federica said...

davvero deliziosi!! complimenti!!

Vanillastrawberryspringfields said...

ME NEVER HAD A BEIGNET either but i sure know i owuld love to walk down those streets ,not only to begin or end my day but also mid day to have these gorgeous buddies with steaming cuppa's......

Karen said...

I grew up in New England. Beignets and grits were never on the menu! These do look good and I imagine a powder-covered face doesn't matter when you're eating them :)

Pink Panda said...

I have never had a beignet. In fact, I didn't even know what it was until you introduced me to these. My friend had to tell me how to pronounce this. Another tasty treat I will have to add to my long list of "need to try".

Joycee said...

For our downfall...so true! I've made this at home but nothing beats setting there on a beautiful New Orleans' day letting the white stuff coat your clothes and sipping a hot cup of milky coffee! Thanks for reminding me....

My Carolina Kitchen said...

You are so right Mary. A perfect way to start the day. I've never attempted to make Beignets but your's look so tempting.....
Sam

Marsha's Mpressions said...

I've been to this place in New Orleans. Wonderful beignets and the chickory coffee is excellent too! Don't know that I'd try them myself. I'll just go to Krispy Kreme. :)

Bella said...

Oh, wonderful! Thanks so much for this recipe. I haven't been to New Orleans since Katrina. We always stopped here for these treats. Delicious.

susan said...

I have spent many happy times covered in powdered sugar at Cafe Du Monde! I have tried their mix, but nothing beats eating one there!

Chef E said...

I keep wanting to make something like this, as my own LA mom used to make...these look so good!

MonsterMama said...

I am too scared to make these on my own. Lucky for me I was just there enjoying beignets and coffee this weekend. Just remember not to inhale while eating :)

A Year on the Grill said...

A great post to have ready to soak up the bile from tonight

The Blonde Duck said...

We actually get to go to the French Quarter in May! I can't wait to try one of these!

Juliana said...

Oh! Love Cafe Du Monde...although haven't been back for a while still remember the beignets...thanks for the recipe :-)

Penny said...

Oh how I love Beignets from the Cafe de Monde. I have bought the mix but never made them from scratch. Thank you Mary for the recipe.

Allie and Pattie said...

Oh Mary-Lovely!! I promised a friend beignets this weekend! They ARE addictive
xoxo Pattie

♥ Kathy said...

Love, love, love beignets!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

We were there last November and I made sure we made our pilgrimmage here for beignets.

Cathy said...

Gorgeous beignets, Mary. They are so good at Cafe du Monde, especially with a strong, hot cup of chicory coffee. One ends up with powdered sugar everywhere, but who cares!!!!

Debbie said...

Cafe du Monde! I love that place. I've stood at the fryer window so many times watching the beignets as they roll through. You really need a big steaming cup of chicory coffee to go with them...it helps to cut the sweet:) I actually have some boxes of their beignet mix in my freezer. I'm sure your replicates theirs very well...what's not to love about fried dough:) Once again, a great post. Thaks.

Wobegon Cottage(alice) said...

I have always wanted to try these and now you have sahred a recipe so I can make then..thank you

The Cooking Photographer said...

I make these too but they look nothing like yours Mary!

Foley said...

I really miss these..never went to NO without having one or two or...

Never thought of trying them myself - going in my file!!

sparkly said...

Oh Mary...these are SO naughty. I'm making them. ;^D (Never had them *gasp*).

Martha said...

Ah, who hasn't visited NO and had chicory coffee and beignets -- the only way to start a day in NO. We have the coffee often -- it is our favorite breakfast coffee at Linderhof -- but beignets . . . ah, they are what NO is for!

Jane said...

On my one visit to NO, MacDaddy and I stopped for beignets each day of our visit...and usually more than once. These are perfect morning, noon, night, and LATE night. And we drank gallons of coffee with chicory. Yum!

MD and I used to host a Bible study for college and beyond "kids". This was their favorite snack...using this recipe. I had to make them at least once a month!
Jane (artfully graced)

zurin said...

i hv heard of this but did nt know they were like donuts!sounds delicious to me and an intersting story!tq ^^

George Gaston said...

Mary, seems like 'great minds' think alike; but I would have to say you are much wiser than me. Your incredible easy style and your unbelievable knowledge of food from your travels, only makes me one that had a similar post about Beignets.

But it does look like we like a good beignet during this celebration season.

Hope you have a terrific day...

Kim said...

I've never had a beignets, but yours look delicious and I would love to try one! Great job:D

Nancy said...

Oh, perfect! During the Gulf War - go to the way back machine for that one - we were at Cafe du Monde for beignets after attending a Mardi Gras ball. Yes, all dressed up and a little tipsy. Someone stood on one of those little tables and began singing The Star Spangled banner. While war is not my thing, it was truly "one of those times" to remember.

I initially stopped by today to thank you for introducing me to Portuguese TURKEY kale soup. Thanksgiving dinner is not my favorite, but I will look forward to the leftovers. Kale soup IS my favorite, and now I have a use for that turkey. Heating up the last of the Christmas leftovers for lunch thousands of miles away in Vermont right now. YUM!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

I have been to the Cafe du Monde several times, and I love beignets. I bought a box of their mix, and have not made them for fear of eating them in greed. I had no idea I could refrigerate the dough, so I like that tip! Hopefully I'll make them very soon-- thanks to your encouragement. I do love these a lot!

Debinhawaii said...

A perfect treat for Fat Tuesday! ;-)

Katy ~ said...

I have not had the pleasure of enjoying these and I think I have been amiss! Thank you for posting such a delectable treat so that we may all enjoy.

My Little Space said...

Will try this out some of these days. Thanks.

Allie said...

Oh, lord - these are so bad for the various diets going on at any given time in my house. Love, love, love beignets, though I will confess to a strong distaste for Cafe du Monde - I'm a devout follower of the beignets at Cafe Beignet on Royal Street.

As for the powdered sugar-face, here's my technique (which has yet to fail me): Before you take a bite, keeping the beignet at least 6 inches from your face, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Don't try to breathe at all again and bite the beignet (with your neck stuck out slightly forward to avoid getting the sugar on your shirt). Once the bite has been taken and the beignet is at least 6 inches away from your face again, you can start breathing. Perfect, powdered sugar-face avoidance while still getting to enjoy every bite!

I miss the morning ritual of beignets, moderated breathing and chicory coffee. Hopefully I can make it to NOLA again soon.

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