Oh February! For a short month you sure can keep us busy. February is the month we celebrate love and fun! The Big Game, Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras are a few dates that come to mind. For Super Bowl Sunday, we can get by with chips, salsa, a good creamy dip, a good sandwich and a few cool drinks. Valentine's Day is not going to be that easy. NO SIR! But we have some time to plan a good dinner for that special day. Fat Tuesday is on my mind and this year making Beignets for my family is no longer a wish. I always wanted to try New Orlean's Beignets, but more importantly I wanted my kids to try them and know what they are for future reference.
After researching a few recipes, I decided to use Paula Deen's recipe for French Quarter Beignets. No shortcuts for me; this recipe uses yeast instead of substituting baking powder. Besides, I thought this could be a good dough to make a King Cake as well and kill two birds with one stone (for the record, I am not into bird killing). The beignets were easy to make and we all loved those little melt-in-your-mouth pieces of heaven.
· 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
· Nonstick spray
· Oil, for deep-frying
· 3 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture with yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F. I used a large cooking pot.
Add the confectioner's sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside. Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.
After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioner's sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.