New Orleans-Style Beignets

Photo of New Orleans-Style Beignets with coffeeBack From The Big Easy
I am back from New Orleans, and it was everything I thought it would be. The weather was hot and humid. The music was loud and all around. The food was fantastic. And, the drinks were strong. I want to go back. It has only been a few days, but I am already longing to roll out of my French Quarter bed and find an early morning table for some beignets and a café au lait.

That is how we spent our first morning there. Miracle of miracles, we were able to just walk right in and sit down at a table. Mid-week is obviously the time to go to avoid the potentially long line. I knew that I would love the beignets. I mean, fried dough with copious amounts of powdered sugar? Sign me up. I was surprised though at how much I enjoyed my café au lait.

I have always liked my coffee with a lot of cream or milk. My husband has for years teased me about the coffee-flavored milk I drink each morning. He is one of those coffee purists who drinks it basically black so as not to inhibit the path of the caffeine to his bloodstream.

I will give him credit, though. He took one for the cream team that morning and sipped some rich coffee goodness while listening to the “dulcet tones” of the jazz band playing on the sidewalk. By dulcet tones, I mean loud. Really loud. Good, but any conversation was rendered impossible. But it screamed New Orleans and it was the perfect breakfast.

I made sure to buy some of the beignet mix at Café Du Monde to bring home even though I know I could get it at several places here. It just seemed wrong not to get it at the source. If you feel like you want to give them a try and make some as authentic as possible beignets from scratch, the recipe below is pretty darn close.

The reality is that they will just never taste as good as they do when you are sitting in the French Market at the Café Du Monde.

New Orleans-Style Beignets Recipe
Adapted from Baker by Nature
Yields 3 dozen beignets

The dough for these New Orleans-Style Beignets needs to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before frying, and up to 24 hours in advance. Also, the eggs and butter need to be at room temperature to make the dough.

1-1/2 cups warm water, between 110º F and 115º F
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup evaporated milk
2-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
7 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups peanut oil, for deep frying
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Special equipment
Deep fry (candy) thermometer

Proof the yeast
In a medium-sized bowl, add the warm water (110º to 115º F), sugar, and yeast and whisk well to combine. Set aside until the mixture has bubbled up and become foamy (about 10 minutes).

Make the dough
Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Beat in the vanilla and evaporated milk. Beat in 3-1/2 cups of the flour until smooth.

Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour in the yeast mixture being careful not to splash. Beat until the dough is smooth.

Add in the butter and beat until incorporated. Finally, beat in the remaining 3-1/2 cups of flour and salt. Beat until dough is smooth and holds together (about 2 minutes).

Refrigerate the dough
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Heat the oil
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with three layers of paper towels and set aside. In a large, enameled, cast-iron pan, heat 4 inches of oil to 360º F.

Form the beignets
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut the dough into 2-1/2-inch squares.

Fry the beignets
Fry the beignets in batches until they puff up and are golden brown in color (about 1 minute). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beignets to the prepared baking sheet with the paper towels. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Dust the beignets with powdered sugar
Place the beignets, a few at a time, in a paper bag with a generous amount of powdered sugar. Shake the bag for a few seconds to coat the beignets.

To serve
Serve the New Orleans-Style Beignets immediately while they are still warm, with strong coffee and extra powdered sugar.



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