beignets

February 21, 2012
Deep in the heart of the French Quarter in a city called New Orleans lies a little, unknown (err... okay... well-known) cafe that serves the best possible breakfast anyone could imagine.   Beloved CafĂ© Du Monde captured my beignet-loving heart as a little girl and hasn't let go.  There's very little that could make anyone happier than a paper sack full of sugar-coated-fried-dough and I don't even want to look you in the face if you can't agree with that.  If you haven't had beignets before, they're similar to the Italian zeppole except for the fact that they're better.  Many moons better. 
So come on y'all.  They don't call today Fat Tuesday for nothin'.  Slap on your sweatpants and get to munching.  As far as Mardi Gras is concerned, I think beignets are the only way to party.

Beignets
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shortening
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup confectioners' sugar, in a paper bag

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, evaporated milk, and blend well. Mix in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the shortening, and then the remaining 3 cups of flour. Cover and chill for at least an hour (or up to 24 hours.)
  2. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares.
  3. Fry in 360 degree F hot oil, carefully monitoring the temperature. Drain onto paper towels. 
  4. Place several Beignets at a time in the paper bag with confectioners' sugar and shake until well-coated.
  5. Serve warm with coffee.