Monday, February 27, 2012

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

    In celebration of Mardi Gras, I decided to host a little dinner party. The menu included items such as Deep Fried Pickles, Chicken Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo and for dessert, Beignets. Everything was so delicious.
   Beignets (ben-YAYs) are a traditional New Orleans breakfast dish, often served as dessert. In New Orleans they're topped with a shovel full of powdered sugar and usually served with a steaming cup of Cafe au Lait. I decided to toss them in some Homemade Vanilla Sugar that my dinner guests had given me as a hostess gift.

New Orleans Style Beignets:

New Orleans style Beignets with Homemade Vanilla Sugar.

1 envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup water (110 degrees F)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 1/2 – 3 3/4 cups flour
1/8 cup shortening
vegetable oil for frying
flavored sugar or powdered sugar for topping

1) Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the salt, egg, and evaporated milk.
3) Place the bowl of a stand mixer into some hot water to warm it's temperature (if you add the yeast mixture to the metal bowl while it's cold it will not proof). Once you've done this, add the yeast mixture to the bowl of the stand mixer and mix on low speed using a dough hook.
4) Add half of the flour and mix until it starts to come together, then add the shortening.
5) When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated and it resembles a ball.
6)Turn the dough onto a floured surface to finish kneading by hand. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth dough.
7) Spray a mixing bowl with kitchen spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place (I use the microwave), for about 45-60 minutes, until it has doubled in size.

8) Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2″ thick. Using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife, cut the dough into 2″ wide rectangles. 
9) Place the beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place.
When the beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees. 10) Place 2-3 beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil).

11) Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain. Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar.

This recipe yields approximately 24 Beignets.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!!
You may also like:
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo