Happy belated Mardi Gras! (Although I suppose this post is coming at an unfortunate time - Lent! Ah well.)
So beignets are basically doughnuts. In French, the word means doughnut, but it can contain a variety of fillings - sweet or savory. The popularized version in the States originates from New Orleans - a plain puffy fried dough covered in heaps of powdered sugar.
Surprisingly, the dough is a straightforward yeast dough. Perhaps the only thing that is unique is that it calls for the use of evaporated milk?
Kneading. That's how you get the nice, chewy texture. You need to knead it thoroughly to relax the gluten in the flour.
Once the dough has rested and risen to double its size, roll it out and cut it into squares.
Let the squares of dough rest again for about 40 minutes.
Once the dough is about ready, heat up a thick-bottomed saucepan or whatever device you normally use to deep-fry. You only need a couple of inches of oil, because the dough pops to the surface immediately if the oil is hot enough. It puffs up prettily, too.
Dust with powdered sugar. I didn't go crazy with this because I don't like super-sweet things - weird, yes, I know, but there's sweet then there's a toothache. Cafe du Monde, the most famous place in New Orleans for beignets, pours like mountains of powdered sugar on top, no joke.
If you're thinking these are unhealthy, well... you're coming to the wrong food blog. However, I will say that these beignets were suprisingly light on oil. They were not greasy at all. Which I think is attributed to oil temperature. You need to get it hot enough that the dough basically cooks immediately as it drops in, which I think forms a sort of barrier and keeps the insides from absorbing too much oil. But don't make the oil so hot that the exterior is fried to a crisp before the insides cook adequately. It's a delicate balance.
Showing you the inside.
Yummmy. Laissez les bon temps rouler!