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Fat Tuesday Beignets

Mon Feb 23, 2009


Beignets for Fat Tuesday

People who know me know this: I have very few secrets. Maybe I read too much Dr. Seuss as a kid, or maybe I was interested in psychology too early, but I offer up information about myself like a flower does pollen. So when I recently let it slip that I have an obsession with donuts, I think my fiancé Neal was a little surprised.

I wasn’t allowed to eat many sweets growing up, and there were rarely any in our house. My mom occasionally bought coffee cake or, my favorite, boxes of Entenmann’s Donuts. I loved the mildly spicy powdered cinnamon ones best. They were cakey and just a little sweet, and they would almost dissolve into a glass of milk. When the cinnamon ones were all gone, I would furtively sneak the plain cake ones, thinking no one would notice.

Somehow, most of my donut eating after that was done on the sly—the honey-dipped Dunkin’ Donuts a secret treat from my Aunt, the dozen donuts at Yum Yum when my friends and I snuck out at 2 a.m. in seventh grade, even the pre-shift sugar donut in grad school that kept me bounding around the restaurant like a five year old at a birthday party after both cake and ice cream. No one knew.

When I confessed my secret passion for donuts to Neal I discovered, to my delight, that Neal secretly harbored a love for donuts too!

Since tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, the culmination of Carnival celebrations, I thought I’d indulge my sweetheart and my sweet tooth and whip up a batch of one of my favorite kinds of donuts: beignets. Beignets are a traditional New Orleans treat—deep-fried yeast dough dusted with powdered sugar. The word beignet is French for “fritter,” a word that any donut-shop frequenter would recognize. I like mine rolled in cinnamon and sugar, though they’re also good with a little spiced chocolate.

To find a recipe I turned to my Anne, a friend and colleague who also happens to be a trained pastry chef. She pointed me in the direction of the Village Coffee Café blog, which had this simple (and might I add, fast) beignet recipe a la the famous Cajun chef, Justin Wilson. I cut mine into little bite-sized circles and served them three ways: dusted with powdered sugar, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and dipped into oozy good dark chocolate. And I saved some dough to make them fresh for the perfect Fat Tuesday breakfast: Fresh beignets and café au lait.

Beignet Justin Wilson Style
courtesy of Village Coffee Café

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1 medium egg
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 quart of oil for deep frying
powdered sugar

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with oil and heat to 375 degrees.

While the oil is heating, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat the egg well. Then beat in the sugar, milk and vanilla.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Turn the dough out on to a well-floured work surface (it will be sticky) and knead lightly. Cut into diamond shapes or cut out 1-inch circles for bite-sized beignets.

Fry in oil, turning once, until lightly browned. Drain on a paper towel. Dust with powdered sugar or roll in cinnamon and sugar and serve hot.

These can easily be adapted to savory recipes as well.

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14 Responses to “Fat Tuesday Beignets”

  1. kat Says:

    I can’t get enough of these when I’m in New Orleans!

  2. brilynn Says:

    I’ve had a strong urge to make doughnuts for a while now and this looks like the perfect recipe to do so!

  3. Tara Says:

    Awesome! I’m so excited that you did this one! Fun stuff!! Now I want to go to Cafe Du Monde.

  4. Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer Says:

    These alone are motivation enough to hit New Orleans!! Look great and very addicting 🙂

  5. missginsu Says:

    We were just discussing beignets today at work… some folks were contending that squareness was a requirement. I disagreed, and now I wish I had used your tasty photo as evidence.

    Thanks for sharing!
    -Miss G.

  6. Neal Says:

    Yes. They were as good as they look. My Fat (Tuesday) belly will attest to that! 😀

  7. Food Woolf Says:

    You writing this must have been what inspired my severe donut craving…Thing is, I just read this now. I guess this must mean we’re best friends that think (and obsess) a like!

  8. Mara (Wedding Cabaret) Says:

    I heart Beignets!!!

  9. sponge cake bob Says:

    Beignets are so easy to make and so satisfying to eat! we make em by the bushel at our events and people go bonkers over them. we also make heaps of brioche donuts with fresh warm preserves, caramel and of course chocolate. the thing I like about simplicity (hold the pop rocks, gray sea salt and bacon) is that they are addictive and you want to eat a platter full. yuuum!

  10. Charlie Says:

    I once had a roommate who would get home from school/work when I was leaving for my medical school classes. On several occasions he picked up fresh donuts from a great place in Allston/Brighton, MA called “Twin Donuts” and go to bed- and I’d wake to find them on the kitchen table.

    I think you may know him.

  11. Leah Greenstein Says:

    I think I may have to marry someone so perfect!

  12. donut chef Says:

    Wow what a great recipe,I tried this yesterday…Excellent, I also love a good raised glazed donut RECIPE

  13. Mardi Gras~ Celebrate with Food « Modern Hostess Says:

    […] Fat Tuesday Beignets via Spicy Salty Sweet […]

  14. Mardi Gras~ Celebrate with Food | Modern Hostess Says:

    […] Fat Tuesday Beignets via Spicy Salty Sweet […]

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