Happy Mardi Gras! Well I guess technically Mardi Gras has been going on for a bit already, but today is the day known as “Fat Tuesday,” which sounds like all of my favorite things wrapped up in one. And what better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with a traditional New Orleans-style dessert recipe–I swear there is no link between the fact that it’s called Fat Tuesday and the fact that I made donuts…they’re not that bad for you.
If you’ve ever been down south, chances are you’ve probably found beignets somewhere on the menu. They’re a French-style pastry that’s become synonymous with the Cajun and Creole food that New Orleans is known for, and they are delicious. I don’t even like donuts (or donut-style desserts) and this beignet recipe had me reaching for more than a few of the pillowy dough puffs.
Truthfully, I didn’t know where to start with making beignets, so I searched for a few recipes until I found this one that looked relatively straight forward. I will say this: they are a bit time consuming. The from-scratch dough took about an hour and a half to rise, during which I worked out with my roommates and earned those beignets, baby. It also makes a massive batch of pastries. I didn’t even use up all the dough, but I’d say it would make you at least 30-40 beignets if you use the whole batch. Not that you’ll have a hard time finding people to take them off your hands…
Frying sounds intimidating, but I assure you it’s much easier than it looks. A few things you should make sure you have on hand: a deep-sided pot (like something you would make sauce in), a slotted spoon to lift the beignets out of the oil, a rack to let them cool a bit on (you’ll want to serve them warm, though) and a newspaper or magazine on hand in case you have to fan your fire alarm to get it to shut off (not that that happened to me or anything).
I served my beignets dusted with powdered sugar and along side a trio of dips: melted semi-sweet chocolate, raspberry preserves (I love Bonne Maman) and my favorite easy-to-make caramel. I cheat when I make it, and combine a melted stick of butter in a sauce pan with a cup of brown sugar, stirring until it’s smooth in melted, about two minutes. Add a half a cup of heavy cream and whisk together for another two minutes, then remove from the heat and add in some vanilla and a good dose of salt. Once it cools it will be perfectly thick and sweet–the ideal partner alongside these doughy, crispy beignets!
I promise if you try these out you won’t be disappointed–they’re worth their weight in tacky plastic beaded necklaces.