Beignets are little bits of heaven. They are pieces of fried sweet dough coated in powdered sugar. So messy! But so good!!! They are the ultimate grab and go. Just make sure you have plenty of napkins!
When Craig and I first married and moved to downtown Memphis, we started a catering business. It was the early 1990’s, and downtown was coming back into its own. We found an untapped market – breakfast for the downtown businesses! Back then, the food service community in the downtown area was a very close, tight-knit community. They all took us under their wing, taught us about the business, and gave us some new ideas. They really opened up a whole new world for us. One of our new friends owned a club on Beale Street, and he let us use his kitchen to cook after hours. And since our niche was breakfast, it was perfect!
We went in armed with The Pick of the Crop, a few pots, pans, and knives, our ingredients and packaging, and a whole lot of faith! Neither of us had ever cooked in a commercial kitchen before, so that was a major learning curve! But it didn’t take long to discover that a restaurant kitchen is exactly where we both belonged. We went in every night and came out the next morning with an array of muffins and biscuits and beignets (our most popular item!)
I didn’t personally know Elizabeth Long, whose recipe in The Pick of the Crop we used, but I did get to know those beignets quite well! I actually hadn’t thought about them in years, but Caylie saw an article on New Orleans where they were talking about beignets. She said, “Mom, can we make beignets?” So, here we are!
What Is The Difference Between A Doughnut And A Beignet?
If you’re from the South, please don’t roll your eyes. Both doughnuts and beignets are fried pieces of dough. Traditional beignets are square with no hole in the center. I also use different formulas to make doughnuts and beignets. So no, you can’t just cut them differently and have the same thing. There is difference in taste and texture. Beignets are a bit heavier than doughnuts when you bite into them.
Can You Heat Up Beignets?
Yes! Obviously, beignets are best eaten as soon as they are cooked. However, you can re-heat them within a couple of hours after cooking. Just place them on a sheet pan, not touching, and warm in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Personally, we just have a tendency to leave them out on the stove and snack on them at room temperature all day.
Are There Important Tips I Need To Know About Cooking Beignets?
I’m glad you asked. Yes, there are! First of all, it’s easier to make beignet dough the day before you want to serve them because the dough has to be chilled. It’s easier to use a dough hook to bring the dough together. But if you don’t have one, you can knead it by hand. I use a lidded plastic bucket sprayed with cooking spray to raise my dough. Using a pizza wheel to cut the dough makes it fast and easy! The recipe in The Pick of the Crop says to heat the oil to 360 degrees. To be honest, I just put it over medium heat on my stove (natural gas), and it was the perfect temperature. After you roll out the dough, work quickly. You don’t want them to start to rise before you cook them. Make sure you dust the excess flour off the beignets before you drop them in the grease. Don’t walk away while they are frying. They will get too brown quickly!
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Classic New Orleans Beignets
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup boiling water
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1 large egg
- Powdered Sugar sifted
The Day Before Cooking:
- Combine flour and yeast in bowl of electric mixer fitted with dough hook.
- In a small bowl, combine butter, sugar, and salt.
- Add boiling water.
- Stir until butter melts.
- Mix in evaporated milk.
- When milk mixture has cooled down, beat in egg.
- Add liquid ingredients to flour mixture.
- Stir at low speed for one minute.
- Increase speed to medium and mix until it becomes a smooth dough, about 5-6 minutes.
- Place in a greased container, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Add 2-3 inches of fresh oil to a saucepan.
- Heat oil on medium heat.
- While oil is heating, roll out beignet dough on floured board to 1/4" thickness.
- Cut into 2" squares.
- When oil is hot, drop beignets into hot oil. No more than 4 at a time!
- Beignets will rise to the top and puff.
- Flip when lightly browned on bottom.
- Brown on other side.
- Remove from oil immediately!
- Drain on paper towels and coat with powdered sugar.
- Pass the napkins, serve, and enjoy!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.