It's Fourth of July weekend and I was supposed to be in New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival. For a variety of reasons, me and my girls were unable to make the trip this year. So in keeping with the N'awlins spirit, I thought I would make some beignets with breakfast this morning.
A beignet is a very light, French style doughnut or fritter that originated in Southern Louisiana. Beignets are typically dusted with powdered sugar and served warm. Many people who visit New Orleans will tell you that cannot, will not, leave the city without visiting Cafe Du Monde. It is there where you will find the classic beignets. The original Cafe du Monde coffee stand was established in the French Market in 1862 and is still in operation today. Cafe Du Monde is considered a New Orleans landmark and stays open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As with many of the famous New Orleans "spots", pack some patience because the lines are typically long. But the end result is well worth the wait.
Beignets are fairly easy to make. But the key is to have the oil at the right temperature. It should be hot enough to give the outside a crispy exterior; but not so hot that the inside does not have a chance to cook properly. So it is a delicate balance.
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 c warm water (115°)
1 c evaporated milk
1/2 c canola oil
1/4 c sugar
4-1/2 c self-rising flour
Safflower or peanut oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar for garnish
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, oil, sugar and egg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Do not knead dough. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; roll into a rectangle. Cut into squares.
Heat oil to 375°. Fry squares, a few at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Garnish with confectioners' sugar, eat with preserves, or drizzle with chocolate.
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