Beignets (Ben-YAYS!)

beignet
You might be expecting a Valentines recipe today. Well, sorry, but I hate Valentines day. Hallmark is not the boss of me. I know my husband loves me without a cheesy card. I know it every time he plunges a toilet, or chauffeurs the kids somewhere after 8 p.m. Besides, I am in way more of a Mardi Gras mood. So instead of another recipe for flourless chocolate cake, I offer you the quintessential New Orleans Doughnut.

In France, a beignet is fruit that is dipped in batter and fried; what we would call a fritter. But in the United States, beignet means New Orleans, the French Market, the Café du Monde and chicory coffee. Beignets have been served at the Café du Monde since 1862, just after the Civil War. Some say the chicory coffee was made extra strong to discourage unaccustomed Northern palates from partaking. It’s a little snotty, no? Me like! The beignet itself, and the tradition of sweet fried dough, is thought to have been imported by French nuns in the 1700’s.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup warm milk
1-1/4 oz. pkg. granulated yeast
2 TB. honey
2 TB. melted butter
2-3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup powdered sugar

METHOD

  1. Stir together milk, yeast, and honey, and rest 10 minutes. Add butter, 1 cup of flour, and salt, and stir together to form a smooth paste. Add remaining flour to form a firm dough. Transfer to a floured work surface and knead vigorously for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with a warm, moist towel, and rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  2.  In a heavy, deep frying pan heat canola oil to 350˚F. Turn dough out onto floured surface and with a rolling pin, roll to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares, fry in hot oil, 1-2 minutes on each side, until evenly browned. Drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
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