New Orleans Beignets and Snow
Have you ever had a moment where you made such a mess, that at some point you just give up worrying about it and begin to laugh? That was me making beignets with my family. This New Orleans fried French roll has been on my culinary bucket list for a while, I just hadn’t gotten around to making it. My daughter is off to see “Finding Dory” with my mom this weekend so I thought it would be fun to curl up as a family and watch “Finding Nemo” together to refresh her memory. And what better treat to snack on while watching, but a giant, sweet beignet!
My intentions were great, but I had no idea how messy this could get. But let’s pause for a moment. Beignets, (if you’ve never heard of them), are a French-inspired, fried roll that is deceptively light and fluffy. After it cooks for 2 minutes in hot oil you then take it out and smother it in powdered sugar. This yeast-based confection is like eating a giant, puffy, sweet cloud. I now see why Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans is famous for them.
So I made the dough carefully to the recipe instructions. I let it rise and kneaded it again before getting ready to fry. I used my cooking thermometer to make sure the oil was piping hot before dropping them in one by one. They cooked a bit fast and turned dark rather quickly, but thankfully they didn’t burn. (Mine cooked for about 30 seconds per side). But where I underestimated things was the powdered sugar….
I guess in my mind I thought I’d toss the beignets into a giant mixing bowl and sprinkle over the powdered sugar. It makes sense, right? But between the heat from cooking them, and the bowl not being a suitable place where all of them could get thoroughly coated, they just weren’t coming out right. Beignets are supposed to look like puffy snow balls. And well, mine just weren’t cutting it (as you can see in the picture here).
So then I had a thought: what if we take a few at a time and put them in brown paper bags, pour in some powdered sugar, and shake them to coat them? Bingo! The beignets were coated perfectly and tasted much better. As my family laughed and shook their brown bags powdered sugar went flying everywhere. They were covered, I was covered…. pretty much the kitchen looked like a winter wonderland. For a split second my brain went, “Oh God… this is going to be so much to clean up!”. But then I paused and looked at their faces. They were having an absolute blast! So what if the kitchen gets a bit.. okay, a lot… messy. It can be cleaned up! Live in the moment and savor the here and now.
And so I did. 🙂
Enjoy this fun, delicious, recipe everyone and have a beautiful day! ❤
New Orleans Beignets
Yields: 12 Beignets
- 1/4 cup warm water (105˚ to 110˚)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-vegetable shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1 large egg
- 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, shortening, and salt at medium speed with a mixer until smooth. Add 1/2 cup boiling water and evaporated milk, beating until combined. Add egg, beating until smooth. Stir in yeast mixture.
- Gradually add 3 cups flour, beating until smooth. Beat in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough, and knead 6 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 12 (3-inch) squares. Do not reroll dough.
- In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 3 inches; heat to 350˚ over medium heat. Fry dough in batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown, turning dough frequently during frying. Drain on paper towels. Sift confectioners’ sugar over hot beignets. Serve warm.