Thursday, September 15, 2005

Recipe: Beignets

Quoted from Cooks Recipes:
The beignet, Louisiana's State doughnut, was first introduced to Louisiana by the Acadians. Early beignets were fried fritters, sometimes filled with fruit. Today, the beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. They are best when freshly made and served hot.
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cottonseed or vegetable oil for frying*
Powdered sugar

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Bring to boiling: butter will melt. Quickly add flour all at once; beat with wooden spoon until flour is moistened. Cook over medium heat, beating vigorously until dough forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating with electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth, shiny and satiny and forms strands that break apart. It should hold its shape when beater is slowly raised. Beat in vanilla. Dough should be fairly stiff.
Roll dough 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured surface, using flour liberally on dough. Cut into 2-inch squares.
In electric skillet or large, heavy skillet, heat 1 to 2-inches of oil to 370*F (185*C) on deep frying thermometer.
Fry 3 or 4 at a time until puffy and golden brown on both sides (do not crowd skillet). Remove beignets with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; transfer to a wire rack. While hot, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Keep warm in 225*F (105*C) oven as you continue frying the remainder. Serve hot, preferably with a piping hot cup of cafe au lait!
Makes 18 to 24.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

RECIPE: New Orleans Beignets

Like the rest of you, I've been feeling sad and upset about Katrina--actually emotionally devastated. Maybe it's time to cook some beignets and eat them with some coffee laced with chicory.

Here's a recipe for old time's sake:

New Orleans Beignets

1 package dry yeast
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened but not hot
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup light cream
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Dash cinnamon
Zest of 1/4 orange
6-7 cups all-purpose flour plus some more
cooking oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

Place the water in a large measuring cup. It needs to be 105 to 110 degrees. The important point is not to have it too hot. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir it until it dissolves. Set the mixture aside while you assemble the other ingredients.

In a very large mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and cream. Blend these ingredients with a mixer. Add the salt, vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon, and orange zest. Stir them into the mixture. Stir the water and yeast into the mixture.

Stir the flour into the liquid mixture one cup at a time. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. Leave plenty of space for it to rise.

Roll out the dough onto a floured bowl about 1/4 inch thick. Roll only the amount of dough that you will need for each indulgence. The dough keeps well if you cover it in the refrigerator, but you want to eat the beignets freshly fried. Cut the beignets in squares about 2-3 inches wide.

Deep fry the at 360 degrees until they are lightly browned. Drain them on paper towwels and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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