Monday, December 20, 2010

Beignets (little fried doughnuts)

Beignets (fancy French word for fried don't you feel more virtuous using that word instead???)

I don’t know about you, but I love cooking and baking sweets for the holidays! So, I decided to go out on a limb and try something I have never made before, but see quite often in cooking competitions like “Chopped” on The Food Network….Beignets. It’s a French term for fried doughnuts. Only, not the doughnuts we are used to getting at the bakery here in the U.S., but a slightly less rich and less sweet fried pastry. Now, typically these beignets are simply dredged in plain old powdered sugar after being deep fried, but again, I decided to try something a little different with my toppings. Here’s what I did:

Topping #1 – Sweet Chai (favorite!)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tea bags Vanilla Chai tea, opened
     (I got this idea for the tea from my friend Bre Whitley - from a cookie recipe she sent me last year!)

Topping #2 – Orange Cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp orange zest
½ tsp cinnamon

Topping #3 – Chocolate Mint
1 cup hot chocolate mix
2 peppermint candy canes, ground to a fine powder

So – now that you know how I gave my beignets flavor, this is how you make the dough. This makes an AWFUL lot, so if you can, I would recommend halving the recipe. They are not sweet at all (if you try them plain) so if you prefer sweeter, I’d add a little more sugar (maybe another ½ cup if making the full recipe). Alternately, if you like the orange zest topping, I would even suggest adding the orange zest to the dough (along with the flour) and then just using cinnamon and sugar to coat. At any rate…these are really yummy, and I suggest you try to make them at least ONCE in your life! Especially if you’re a doughnut lover!

Ingredients (recipe taken from The Food Network, via Paula Deen)

• 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 envelope active dry yeast
• 2 eggs, slightly beaten
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
• 1 cup evaporated milk
• 7 cups bread flour
• 1/4 cup shortening
• Nonstick spray
• Oil, for deep-frying
• 3 cups confectioners' sugar


Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the 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 the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours. (you can also cover in plastic and refrigerate for up to 24 hours if you need to)

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.


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