Buttermilk Beignets (about 12 beignets )
Beignets and chicory café au lait go hand in hand. Or one in hand and one in a mug. But they should go hand in hand, and now they do. I give you beignets filled with chicory café au lait custard. More photos here, by the way.
Look. Yes, there recipe calls for a potato and no, that is not even remotely traditional. But after having made sweet potato doughnuts, easily the best doughnut of all time, I can’t go back to potato-less fried dough. I tried. It just wasn’t as good. The potato creates an unbelievably tender, soft dough that will blow your mind.
You can steam, roast, or boil your potato to prepare it for this recipe, you can even used a leftover baked potato, peeled and mashed. As long as it’s thoroughly tender and smashed until smooth, you’re good to go.
1 Tbsp instant yeast
1 egg yolk
2 ounces brown sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
8 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
5 ounces potato puree (Yukon gold work very nicely!)
3 ounces butter, melted
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod reserved for another use
24 ounces all purpose flour, though you may not require all of it
peanut oil for frying (Canola oil is responsible for that gross frying stuff smell that lingers in your house for days after frying. Ew. Go for peanut.)
1 batch Chicory Custard, fitted into a pastry bag with a large plain tip.
ample powdered sugar and a sieve for dusting
Look, I don’t do that whole sprinkling yeast in some warm water to see if it’s alive business. If you can’t remember when you bought the yeast, it’s probably dead. Otherwise, if you purchased it recently, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be fine. By all means, test away if that reassures you, I just find it tedious.
Combine everything from the yeast through the vanilla seeds in a large bowl and whisk vigorously to combine and dissolve the yeast and sugars. When the mixture looks homogeneous, add the flour a cup at a time and work until a dough forms. Not all of the flour may be needed.
Knead the dough for ten minutes, don’t get anxious or rush, it wants ten full minutes. You may need to add a little of the leftover flour should it stick too much.
When the dough is smooth and well kneaded, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it proof for 30 minutes to an hour, or until doubled. (The time will depend on the temperature of your kitchen and the temperature of your ingredients. If you use cold milk and eggs, it will take longer. Yada yada.)
Roll the dough out until it’s about a 1/2” thick. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into rectangles. Bear in mind they’ll double in size before frying and from there puff up even more, so cut them a tad smaller than you’d like the size of your finished beignet.
Lay beignets on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
Let them rest in a semi-warm location and proof a second time until doubled in size. Again, the time will vary depending on the temperature of the room.
You can easily make the Chicory Custard during the second rise.
When the custard is made and the beignets have doubled, fill a deep pot with at least 4” of peanut oil, put the heat on medium, and warm it to 355°. Have a cookie sheet lined with paper towels standing at the ready.
Get a pot of chicory brewing!
When the oil reaches 355°, fry the beignets a few at a time; about 2 minutes per side. I like to fry some of the oddly shaped corner pieces first, because they’re usually small and help me “warm up” my frying skills, like regulating the oil temperature, etc.
The number of beignets you can fry at one time depends on their size and the size of the pot; I do four at most. Just don’t overcrowd them. Closely monitor the heat of the oil, adjusting the flame to keep the temperature steady. Use a fork or a pair of chopsticks to flip them over, and to remove when done.
Let them drain on the paper toweled cookie sheet. After a minute or so, flip them over and move them to a fresh patch of paper towel so the tops can de-grease as well.
Whenever you go to fry another batch of beignets, first check the temperature of the oil, regulating it as necessary. The temperature, unfortunately, can fluctuate pretty wildly if you’re not careful.
Keep on keepin’ on until you’ve fried and drained them all.
Use the tip of a knife to poke a hole into the side of each beignet. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to widen it enough to accommodate the pastry tip. Wiggle the spoon handle a bit to the left and to the right, gently, to make room for the chicory custard.
Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the beignet and hold the beignet firmly in place. Squeeze the bag gently to fill each beignet; it will take much less than you think.
Instructing you to finish the beignets by dusting generously with powdered sugar would be an understatement. Freaking cover these guys with a thick blanket of powdered sugar. At Cafe du Monde the beignets and powdered sugar come out in a 1:1 ratio.
Make yourself a New Orleans style café au lait and lay these beignets to waste!
Nov 10, 2011 · 4:51 PM
Since it’s Thanksgiving and xmas season I’ve bought several large cans of pumpkin puree. Not as homemade as a freshly boiled potato though. I wonder how it compares flavor and texture-wise with the pumpkin? Certainly it will change the flavor since pumpkin has more flavor than potato.
· Lumpynose · http://lumpynose.wordpress.com
Nov 10, 2011 · 8:07 PM
@Lumpynose, it would probably work pretty well, though it may make the dough a bit looser. But I have a recipe already for sweet potato doughnuts, which is very similar to this. You might try using that as your base, it’s slightly tweaked in favor of the softness of a sweet potato.