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Beignets: the mouthwatering recipe for a classic New Orleans dessert

Total time: 45 Min + resting time
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 24 people
By Cookist
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There's nothing like sinking your teeth into a freshly fried beignet. With their soft, pillowy inside and lightly crispy outside and sweet, sugary flavor, New Orleans beignets are a wonderful sweet you can serve for breakfast or brunch or enjoy as a light dessert.

These square-shaped treats are just as delicious as the ones you'll find served at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans and are perfect for enjoying with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or cafe au lait.

Beignets taste best when made fresh, but you can make the dough ahead of time and fry them when it's time to chow down.

What is a Beignet?

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A beignet (pronounced “bay-nyay”) is a delicious French fried fritter made from choux pastry. It's made from sweet yeasted dough.

New Orleans is especially famous for them, where they're typically enjoyed with breakfast or as a snack.

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Beignets vs Doughnuts

While both doughnuts and beignets are delicious fried treats, there are a few differences between the two. Beignets are made from choux pastry and cut into squares, and fried.

Traditional doughnuts tend to be made into ring shapes. Beignets are lighter and airer compared to doughnuts.

New Orleans Beignets Ingredients

To make authentic beignets, you'll need bread flour, yeast, butter, sugar, water, and evaporated milk.

Vanilla extract is used to flavor the dough, while powdered sugar is a must for garnishing the fried beignets.

Use a neutral oil for frying beignets.

How to Make Beignets

Homemade New Orleans beignets are surprisingly easy to make. To make beignet dough, start by combining the water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Whisk it gently then let it stand for several minutes, or until it becomes frothy. Crack the eggs into the bowl of your stand mixer and beat well.

Add in the vanilla and evaporated milk. Mix in half the flour. Lower the speed of your mixer, then slowly mix in the yeast mixture. Once the yeast has been mixed in, add in the butter, followed by the remaining salt and flour. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and supple. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours up to overnight. The longer you leave the dough, the better the flavor of your beignets will be.

Line a couple of plates with paper towels and set them aside. You'll use these for draining the beignets once they've been fried. Heat the oil in your Dutch oven. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface and slice it into 2 1/2-inch squares.

Fry the beignets in batches for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Remove the beignets with a slotted spoon and set them on the paper towels to soak up excess oil. Garnish the beignets generously with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

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How to Serve Beignets

Beignets are usually served immediately after frying with a cup of coffee, cafe au lait, or tea. Make sure to dust them liberally with powdered sugar.

You can serve them with dipping sauces if you like. Chocolate ganache, jam, white chocolate ganache, and melted Nutella are all lovely options. They're also served with fresh fruit such as berries and bananas.

Tips for Making New Orleans Beignets

To make vegan beignets, use oil instead of butter, coconut milk instead of evaporated milk, and vegan egg substitute.

Adding yeast to the dough to leaven it helps give beignets their light, airy texture. However, you can make beignets without yeast. There's no rest time – once you make the dough, simply fry the beignets.

To make chocolate beignets, you can either add a little cocoa powder to the dough or make a chocolate filling and squeeze it into the fried beignets with a piping bag, depending on what you prefer.

Use room temperature ingredients to make your beignets.

The water should be between 110 to 115F to properly activate the yeast.

Use a candy thermometer to tell when the oil is hot enough for frying.

Other flavorings you can add are orange extract, lemon extract, and almond extract.

You can add fillings to your beignets such as Nutella, custard, jam, and cream.

Save yourself time by using pancake mix or biscuit mix to make the beignet dough instead of making everything from scratch.

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How to Store Beignets

Beignets are best enjoyed immediately, however, if you have leftovers, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Can You Freeze Beignet Dough?

Absolutely! Frozen beignet dough will last up to 3 months. Let it thaw before making the beignets.

Ingredients
Warm water
1 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar
2/3 cup
Active Dry Yeast
2 1/4 tsp
Large eggs
2
Evaporated milk
1 cup
pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp
Bread flour
7 cups
salt
1 1/2 tsp
Unsalted butter
5 tbsp
Oil
4 cups
Powdered sugar
2 cups

Instructions

Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Leave for 10 to 15 minutes, until foamy.

Whisk the eggs in your stand mixer. Mix in the vanilla and evaporated milk.

Add in half the flour.

Lower the speed of your mixer, then beat in the yeast mixture.

Add in the butter, followed by the remaining salt and flour.

Continue mixing until smooth.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel or cling film and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours up to overnight.

Wait until it doubles in volume. Line two to three plates with paper towels and set aside. Heat oil to 360F in a Dutch oven.

Flour a work surface and roll out the dough.

Cut into 2 1/2-inch squares.

Fry in batches for 1 minute, or until golden brown.

Remove the beignets with a slotted spoon and set them on paper towels to drain.

Garnish with powdered sugar.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

Use a neutral oil with a high smoke point for frying the beignets. Vegetable oil, canola oil, refined coconut oil, and sunflower oil are all good options.

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