I told my kids last week that I would make beignets for breakfast over the Thanksgiving weekend. They still have the memories of Cafe du Monde in the spring before Katrina — plates of those hot fritters, covered by the after effects of a powdered sugar blizzard. I remember seeing my kids devouring donut after donut, with white powder dusting their noses and cheeks and sweatshirts. I wasn’t about to let them down. The problem is, I had no idea how to make beignets.
I searched through the internet and quickly realized that there were two types of beignets: those that used yeast and those that did not. I figured using yeast would make the process much more difficult, but I continued my research. Finally, a friend came to the rescue (at least figuratively): Karen Barker has a beignet recipe in her wonderful dessert cookbook, Sweet Stuff. Granted, it’s a recipe for black pepper beignets, but it provided a solid reference. And it used yeast. Knowing that Karen usually chooses a simple method for her desserts, I thought I’d give it a try, in spite of her use of yeast. But then I ran into a problem: the recipe called for a quarter cup of cream, but I had used up all my stock, and I had absolutely no desire to go to the store. The solution? Eggnog! Necessity being the mother of invention, as far as I can tell, I am the creator of the eggnog beignet, as I could not find any reference to one on the internet. I’m sure plenty of others have actually made eggnog donuts or fritters or the like, but damn it, I’m claiming this recipe as mine, all mine!
Oh, and it’s really easy, too!
Photos and recipe after the break.
Mix the ingredients to form a wet dough. Then add more flour.
Turn out onto a flour-dusted surface.
Gently knead for 5 minutes.
After letting rest for 15 minutes, roll into rectangle.
Square off the edges (oh, you can fry the scraps, too!)
Ready for frying
- 1 1/4 tsp yeast
- 2 Tbsp warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp shortening
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/4 cup eggnog
- 1 egg
- 2-2 1/4 cups flour
- vegetable oil for frying
- powdered sugar for dusting
Combine yeast with warm water and pinch of sugar in small bowl. Let sit to proof.
Combine remaining sugar with shortening and salt. Add boiling water and stir to melt shortening. Cool for 5 minutes.
Add eggnog, egg, and yeast mixture to bowl and combine. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 1/2 cups flour. Slowly add enough of remaining flour to form a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll dough into a 15X12 inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, trim edges and cut into 2X3 inch pieces.
Put about 3 inches of oil into fryer. Bring oil temperature to about 360°F. Slowly add dough strips to hot oil. Don’t crowd the oil, as you’ll need to fry the beignets in several batches. After a minute or two, flip the beignets to brown the other side. Remove beignets and drain on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet.
Put beignets on a plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or cinnamon sugar) and serve immediately.
The beignet dough can be made the night before, cut into the rectangles, and stored between layers of wax or parchment paper in the refrigerator. The dough can be fried cold from the refrigerator.
(Edit: You may want to add 1/4 tsp nutmeg to the flour to give the beignets more of an eggnog flavor)
Adapted from Sweet Stuff: Karen Barker’s American Desserts by Karen Barker