Beignets (pronounced ben Yay) are a classic New Orleans treat. Think of them as a Creole doughnut. A few with your morning coffee starts the day off right. I often make a few from a ball of dough from the fridge for a Sunday morning special with whatever else is for breakfast.
The recipe is a little work, but worth it. Plus, it makes enough dough for 30 or so beignets, so unless you’re feeding a crowd, you’ll have plenty of dough left over for future batches.
They’re pretty small, so if you don’t have a deep fat fryer, or don’t want to use it, you can get by fine with a small skillet with 1/2 inch of oil or so.
1/2 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 egg, beaten
4 cups sifted flour
confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the shortening, sugar, and salt. Add the milk and stir.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add to the milk mixture with the beaten egg.
Stir in two cups of flour. Keep adding flour until the dough stops being sticky and you can handle it. Meanwhile heat the oil to 350 degrees or so. If you don’t have a thermometer, the oil should be shimmering, and not smoking.
Cover a cutting board and rolling pin with flour, and massage the ball of dough until it is soft and pliant. Whack off a piece of dough and roll it into a thin layer, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut it into pieces about an inch on a side.
Fry the beignets on one side until golden brown, and turn over and fry the other side. This will take less than a minute per side, depending on the temperature of the oil. The beignets will puff up like little pillows.
Take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon, and place on a rack over paper towels to drain and cool off. Using a small strainer, sprinkle powdered sugar all over them. Tapping the strainer with your free hand should create a nice snowy effect.
As I mentioned above, I have kept a ball of dough in the fridge for several weeks, and cut off a piece for beignets every Sunday morning. I don’t know what the storage limit is, but I suppose you could also freeze some dough for future use. Let me know what your experience is.
But if you have company over, you won’t have to worry about using them all up!