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Angel-Light Beignets

Angel-Light Beignets
Beignets (pronounced "ben-YAYS") are a traditional New Orleans deep-fried yeast pastry. In the heart of the French Quarter at the Café du Monde, every good day starts and often ends with a plate of these airy golden treats and a cup of chicory-infused café au lait.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup warm water (115°F)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Peanut oil for deep-frying
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Directions:

In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water, granulated sugar, salt and yeast. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.

Measure out 3 1/2 cups of the flour into a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the yeast mixture, processing until fully absorbed. Add the cream and egg and process to form a soft dough. Add more flour, 1 Tbs. at a time, until the dough cleans the sides of the work bowl and is no longer sticky. Continue processing for 1 minute to knead. Place the dough in a lightly oiled sealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate overnight.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch it down to eliminate air pockets. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into an 8-inch square about 3/4 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, square off the corners. Cut the dough into sixteen 2-inch squares, then cut the squares in half on the diagonal to form 32 triangles. Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

In a heavy saucepan or deep fryer, pour in oil to a depth of 4 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Add the pieces of dough, a few at a time, and deep-fry, turning as needed, until golden, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle generously with confectioners' sugar and serve hot.
Makes 32 beignets.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The South, by Roy Overton (Time-Life Books, 2000).