As part of my Eat Like a Princess series I recreated Tiana's Man Catching Beignets and couldn't resist cutting the dough into Mickey shapes and frying them up. I learned that keeping the dough around 1/2 inch resulting in a slightly underdone center which reminded me of the texture of the Mint Julep Bar's beignets. Of course the liberal coating of powered sugar didn't hurt either.
I was excited to use my Le Creuset dutch oven as a deep fryer with a Taylor thermometer clipped to the side of the pot. I've seen my personal spirit animal, Claire Saffitz, frying donuts this way for multiple episodes of Gourmet Makes and felt like this would be the best way to conquer my fear of deep frying. I can happily tell you there were no oil fires during the making of these beignets because I was careful to slowly increase the heat and toggle the heat on/off low to maintain the oil at 350 degrees.
Alternating between a few methods for frying once in the oil, I found that frying on each side for about 20 seconds and then turning every 10 seconds for a total of 60-80 seconds produced the perfect beignet. I used some fondue forks to turn the beignets in the oil and pulled them from the pot with a slotted wooden spatula. The new cooling racks my husband got me for Christmas were perfect for cooling and letting the excess oil drip off.
I cut the recipe in half and it was perfect. The whole recipe makes 3 dozen beignets so it will feed a crowd. You can keep the dough resting in the fridge overnight if you can't fry the same day as you put together the dough. Toss the beignets back in the microwave to warm up and then toss in powered sugar as you're ready to eat them. Otherwise the powered sugar will absorb moisture and be a little sticky.
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup evaporated milk
- 7 cups bread flour
- 1/4 cup shortening
- Vegetable oil
- 3 cups confectioners' sugar
- Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and evaporated milk together.
- Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and mix.
- Stir in 3 cups of bread flour. (A wooden spoon is good for stirring.)
- Add shortening and stir it in. Stir in remaining flour.Note: The video above shows melted shortening being used, but there is no need to melt the shortening. It will mix in just fine in solid form.
- Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
- Coat a large bowl with oil, place dough in bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let rise at least 2 hours or place in refrigerator overnight.
- Pour about 3 inches of oil in a Dutch oven and heat to 350 degrees.
- Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness and cut 2-inch squares. (This is easy to do with a pizza cutter.)
- Working about 4 at a time, place in oil and fry, flipping continuously until they are golden brown.
- Test one to make sure it is cooked through. Drain on paper towels and coat with powdered sugar.
Make these. Just do it. I'll come over and help you. You will not regret it.