Mar 5, 2011

Mardi Gras Eats #5: Beignets

Only a few days left until Mardi Gras 2011.  Every year I'm both ready...and not.  There's still a lot to be done (my family volunteers with some of the activities in town).

You probably won't hear from me until the week after MG.

But I can't leave you, my sweet readers, without what is probably my favorite Mardi Gras sweet (yes, it even trumps King Cake!).

Carnival time in my family means someone's makin' beignets!  Beautiful, pillowy, from scratch beignets.

Beignets from Ms. enPlace

When I was a tiny little thing, aunts, uncles, & cousins would meet up at my great-grandma's house.  She lived near Endymion's route.  Before, during, and after the parade, she'd fry up beignets for everyone.  Her floors would have a nice snowy dusting by the time everyone headed home.

Years later, we'd meet up at my grandparents' house, which was walking distance (though a far walk) to the Metairie parades.  My grandpa took over making the beignets.  To simplify things one year, he decided to add the powdered sugar to a shaker.  A shaker that he'd carefully washed and air dried.  A shaker that once held black pepper.

The beignets that year.

New Orleans.  French Quarter.  Cafe Du Monde.  Words associated with beignets.  Both tourists and locals love them.  In my opinion, doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, a trip to the Quarter isn't complete without stopping at Cafe Du Monde.

A little tip, don't blow the extra powdered sugar off if you're sitting under the ceiling fans.  And don't wear black.  Just trust me on these things.

If you're looking for something similar with no rising time, try Cajun beignets, called croquignoles (croaks-in-yoal).  Or Calas (KUH-la)--Creole rice fritters.  Both can be found here.

Mise en place:
Yeast, warm water, granulated sugar,
eggs, milk or evaporated milk, vanilla,
salt, flour, Crisco,
vegetable oil for frying, powdered sugar

Beignets are made with a yeast dough.  Give the yeast a little jump start.

Rachel, a cooking buddy of mine, taught me a neat trick for working with yeast.  She rinses her bowl with hot water to warm it up.
I know I've noticed that when I use a metal bowl, it quickly drops the temperature of the water.  Rachel's rinsing tip really helps. 

After rinsing your mixing bowl with hot water, add the 1 1/2 cups of warm water and sprinkle in the yeast.  Next, take a couple of teaspoons of sugar from the 1/2 cup you'll need overall and stir that into the yeast.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk or evaporated milk.

A couple of notes:

* The recipe I use calls for 1 c milk. Plain old milk. Which is what I used here. And the beignets are perfectly good using that. But I've found I like them even more using evaporated milk.

* Somewhere along the way, I also started adding vanilla for kicks.

Add the salt, half of the flour, and all of the shortening.  Mix to combine.
Considering the volume of flour in this recipe (7 cups), a stand mixer is the best way to go.

Add the rest of the flour and mix until the dough forms a loose ball and pulls away from the bowl.

Keep in mind that the dough will be very sticky!

This recipe makes a huge, party-worthy amount of beignets.  Luckily, the dough freezes very well.  Normally for the three of us, I divide the dough in three.  No.  Not one per.  Two go in the freezer, smarty.  But since it's Mardi Gras and all...Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Place the dough, or portions of dough, on a floured surface and form into
a ball(s). 

If freezing, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a container or freezer bag.

If not, place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate overnight.

It's so hard to wait.
These pictures are from a while ago.  I have no idea why I divided the dough and placed in separate bowls.  I'm sure I had a perfectly good reason.
Or probably not.

The next day, let the dough come to room temp and punch it down.  Let it rest about 15-20 minutes before rolling out into a giant rectangle.

Cut into small(ish) rectangles or squares with a floured pizza cutter.

Fry 'em up at about 350.  Flip soon after adding them to the hot oil or they'll never want to turn over.  Fry until both sides are golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Unlike grandpa, I'll stick with shaking on the powdered sugar this way.
My great-grandma used to put the hot beignets in a paper sack with powdered sugar and hand it to one of the kids to shake.  Brave, brave lady.

Serve right away.  There's nothing more sadful than a cold beignet.
You probably won't even need plates.  Believe me, everyone will stand around the kitchen waiting!

Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 Tbsp active dry yeast (one .25 oz package)
1/2 c granulated sugar, divided
1 c evaporated milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
7 cups flour
1/4 c Crisco shortening
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar

Rinse bowl of a stand mixer with hot water (to warm the bowl).  Add 1 1/2 cups warm water.  Sprinkle in the yeast.  Use a teaspoon or two of the granulated sugar to help get the yeast started.  Stir to dissolve.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the granulated sugar, evaporated milk, vanilla, and eggs and mix well with paddle attachment.

Add the salt, half of the flour, and all of the shortening.  Mix until well combined.

Add the rest of the flour, mixing to combine until the dough forms a (loose) ball and pulls away from the bowl.  The dough will be very sticky.

Place dough on a floured surface and shape into a ball.  Or, the dough can be divided into smaller portions.  Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate over night.  Dough can also be wrapped well and frozen at this point.

Remove dough from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature.  (If working with frozen dough, first transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic, and allow it to thaw overnight.)   Punch down and let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes, covered with a damp tea towel.  Roll dough into a large rectangle, about 1/4" thick.  Cut into rectangles with a floured pizza cutter.

Heat vegetable oil to 350-375.  Carefully drop in beignets, a few at a time.  Turn over after about 30 seconds.  Fry until golden and puffed, turning a second time.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.

*The "old-school" way of adding the powdered sugar is to place the just-out-of-the-fryer beignets in a paper bag with powdered sugar and shake.

Linked up with

Food on Friday: Breakfast Dishes @ Carole's Chatter


All the Small Stuff
Around My Family Table


  1. OMG, I LOVE THESE!!!!! The only ones I've ever had was at the Port Orleans resort at Disneyworld and I know they probably weren't authentic but I went crazy over them. I can't tell you how many of these I stuffed my face with. These are insanely good and right now I so wish I was your next door neighbour........

  2. I love beignets. I usually buy the mix online from Cafe du Monde, but this is way, way better. Many thanks!

  3. I am with Brenda on this one - OMG the beignets are a favorite, a weakness....totally pleasurable.
    You did nice job here of posting the step-by-step.

  4. I have a Cafe` Du Monde coffee cup! A Friend brought it back to me when she visited New Orleans. She also brought me Coffee with chicory (spelling?) and beignet mix from Cafe Du Monde.
    Mmmmmm..... I too want to come to your house! For beignets and coffee....and you don't have snow in your backyard!

  5. Oh beignets! I've heard so much about them but have never had them. Tragedy! yours look like deep fried perfection.

  6. Your beignets are beautiful!!! Thank you so much for the step-by-steps for those of us, like me, who have never made them! I'm sure that you're getting very excited for Mardi Gras! Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog last week too!

  7. These look amazing and very yummy!! Thank you for sharing at Make a Food-"e"-Friend Monday. I would have stopped by sooner to comment but have had a rough day (not feeling so well this morning). Hope you have a great week! :)

  8. I hope you're having fun at Mardi Gras right now!

    Loved the tip about warming the bowl with hot water-will definitely follow that. Your beignets look pillowy and delicious. I would have a hard time eating just one, or two, or even stopping with three.

  9. Oh boy, I do want some. Saved the recipe, but will probably cut it down so I don't eat them all.

  10. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Mardi Gras was...well people say the sign of a good Mardi Gras is that you're glad it's over.

    I'm glad.

    Debbie- You know, I've actually never tried the mix! Was it good?

  11. Super yummy MM! My daughter is so excited! She got invited to spend a week in New Orleans with her cousin this summer and she says the two things she wants to try are crayfish and beignets! I would love to do the same thing! these look divine! Thanks for sharing on the hearth and soul hop! All the best, Alex


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