French Beignets for Mardi Gras!

Today is Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday for the Irish and the pancake lovers!

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The beignet is going to be the focus of this post, however.  This traditional French breakfast treat was made popular in New Orleans and has become associated with the infamous day before Lent as much as King Cake has.

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Some people equate these delightful pastries to donuts, but they’re actually more closely related to the English fritter, sans filling.  Traditionally they are topped with powdered sugar, but I suppose you could garnish them any way you like.  I like them with applesauce on the side, just like a Danish ebelskiver.

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Seriously YUM.  A feast fit for a king!

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Who needs a celebration to make these?  I’d eat them any day of the week!

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The recipe itself is very easy, but the waiting period for the dough to rise is the hard part. I’ll let you take over from here and enjoy making some fried sugar dough before it’s too late!

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Ingredients: 

4 cups all-purpose flour

⅓ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

¾ cup warm water (95°F to 100°F) *Use a thermometer so you don’t kill the yeast with too hot of water!

½ cup evaporated milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons room temperature, unsalted butter

Vegetable oil * To Fry With

Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon * For Garnish

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Directions:  *Note: I suggest using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or stir by hand with a wooden spoon as this dough gets very thick and sticky, very quickly.  

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

Add warm water, evaporated milk, egg and butter.  Mix until it forms a smooth, but sticky dough.  About 4 to 5 minutes.

Dump dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place for an hour.  You can also let it rise in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight if you have the time.

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Once dough has risen (about twice its size), heat about 2 to 3 inches of vegetable or other cooking oil in a medium saucepan.  It should be nice and hot—but not too hot or you could burn the dough.  I recommend using a thermometer for this endeavor as well.  A temperature of 350º F is what you should be shooting for.

Roll dough out onto a lightly floured, even surface and roll to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Using a pastry cutter or kitchen scissors, cut the dough into squares.  No need to be precise, but I made mine as evenly shaped as possible.  Some turned out to be triangles!

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Drop dough (using a slotted spoon or tongs) into the frying oil.  Turn gently so that each side gets nice and brown.  If your oil is too hot, they will brown in about 3 seconds.  Otherwise I have seen other recipes suggest frying them for a few minutes, especially if you want the dough to be cooked all the way through.  Watch them like a hawk.  DO NOT walk away.  Hot oil is dangerous and should be monitored closely.

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Using the same tongs or slotted spoon, transfer fried beignets onto a paper-towel laden plate to soak up the oil.

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 Let them cool for a minute and then sprinkle generously with a blend of powdered sugar and cinnamon.  I used a flour sifter to do this!

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 Beautiful.

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I think I ate four immediately after this shoot…and then promptly made my way to the gym…

Serve warm and enjoy for Fat Tuesday before the week turns from feasting to fasting!

 

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Happy Mardi Gras!

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Until next time…

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-K

 


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