New Orleans–Style Beignets
New Orleans, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways: 1) Beignets 2) Jazz Fest 3) Beignets 4) Jackson Square 5) Did we mention beignets? We’ve clearly got a thing for those delightful pillows of fried dough coated in confectioners’ sugar. And although Mardi Gras comes but once a year, you can—and should—tuck into these light and airy bites whenever you crave them (which is often, in our experience).
And great news for all of us, they’re actually easier to make than you would think. There’s no need for a deep-fryer—a deep skillet or Dutch oven will do—and the dough can be made the night before if you don’t feel like playing baker at 5 a.m. Fry up a batch for breakfast, put on a pot of coffee (or make café au lait if you want to go really traditional) and indulge.
4 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water (95°F to 100°F)
½ cup evaporated milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil, for frying
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and yeast. Add the warm water, evaporated milk, egg and butter, and mix on medium speed until the mixture forms a smooth but sticky dough, about 5 minutes.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. (See note below for overnight instructions.)
3. When the dough has risen, in a medium pot, heat 2 to 3 inches of vegetable oil until the oil reaches 350°F on a thermometer. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
4. While the oil heats, divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to about ¼-inch thick. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares (no need to be precise).
5. Fry the dough in batches until golden brown and puffed, turning the dough while it fries so it browns evenly, 5 to 6 minutes..
6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beignets from the oil to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Cool slightly, then finish with a generous sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar before serving.
Note: You can also make the dough the night before and let it rise overnight. In step 2, use lukewarm water (80°F to 85°F). Transfer the dough to a lightly greased medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in the refrigerator overnight, or 8 to 10 hours. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and resume with step 4.