A beignet is a wonderful cross between doughnuts and fritters. This is typically served as a side dish or for dessert, along with cafau lait (this is different from café au lait) or dark roast coffee with chicory and equal parts of hot milk. Beignets are square-shaped pieces of dough that are deep-fried until they puff up. After frying, they are dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served piping hot. In the United States, beignets are usually associated with Mardi Gras and New Orleans. A trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the iconic Café du Monde, the original French Market coffee stand.
- In 1986, the beignet was named the official doughnut of Louisiana.
- The word “beignet” comes from the French word meaning fritter or fried dough.
- Some beignets are filled with jams or jellies, but traditional beignets are only dusted with powdered sugar.
- The correct way to pronounce beignet is “BEN-yay”.
Beignet Buying Guide
There are a couple of really good beignet premixes out there on the market but the best ones will come from the famous New Orleans coffee shops. There’s really no hard guide out there to determine what the premixes will taste like as part of the taste will depend on the technique on how the beignets are actually prepared and cooked.
Purchasing cooked beignets from stores, on the other hand, is another matter. Look for shops that have beignets as their specialty and just don’t serve beignets as an extra on the menu. It’s like this, if it’s a coffee shop that serves beignets, then it’s probably fine. A beignet shop that serves coffee? Even better. The longer the line for the beignets, the better they are.
Beignet Production & Farming in Texas
Since Texas is just a hop, skip, and jump away from New Orleans, there are a lot of specialty stores in the state that features beignets as their main product. Many of them still serve traditional French Quarter style beignets and coffee and are worth a visit if you’re hankering for some good beignets.
Preservatives and Chemicals:
Since beignets are usually cooked to order and are not usually sold pre-cooked on store shelves, they contain little or no chemical additives and preservatives.
Beignets are best consumed right there and then in the coffee shop. If you really want to bring some home, they’re usually packed in brown paper bags to allow the beignets to breathe and to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Beignets are traditionally eaten as a dessert or with coffee, but they can be enjoyed at any time. In fact, most of the well-known beignet shops in New Orleans are open for 24 hours.
Make Your Own Beignets:
If you have a few hours to spare then you can make your own beignets at home that are as close as you can get to Café du Monde without going to New Orleans.
¾ cups lukewarm water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ cup whole milk
1 egg, beaten
¾ teaspoon salt
18 oz (3 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
Oil for frying (for a more authentic New Orleans taste, use Cottonseed oil)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the stand mixer bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes until foamy.
Whisk in the salt, egg, and milk. Once incorporated, mix in half of the flour and continue to mix with a large wooded spoon. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment with the speed set to medium.
Mix in the melted shortening and continue to mix.
Add the remaining flour and continue to mix until the mixture becomes manageable with your hands. Continue to knead on a floured surface until smooth. Make sure not to over-knead the mixture as the dough will become hard.
Let the dough rise for two hours or until double in size.
Preheat deep fryer or pan with oil to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.
On a heavily floured surface, roll the dough until it is about a quarter of an inch thick. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares and fry them 3 to 4 pieces at a time, don’t overcrowd the pan. While frying, use a wooden spoon to splash the top part with hot oil for 45 seconds or so. Flip the beignets and continue to splash with the oil. Splashing the beignets while being cooked helps them puff up to their signature puffy state. Repeat this process three or four times or until they are fully cooked.
Allow the beignets to cook on a towel-lined plate or on a cooling rack until they can be handled with your hands without burning your fingers.
Transfer to serving plates and dust them with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
As you can see, making beignets can be quite a bit of a chore, but if you successfully pull it off, it’s going to be really good. If you don’t have the time or ingredients then you can always take a quick drive to one of the local beignet shops, they’re just as good and you can always get them fresh and hot.