Friday, January 31, 2014

Beignets and Cafe Au Lait


Powered sugar swirling about in the open air café of Café Du Monde has been on my bucked list for sometime.  Having never tasted a beignet in my life, I really didn't know what to expect.  However, being the doughnut freak that I am, the idea of a big fluffy powdered French Doughnut...well you get the picture!


So, while on a recent getaway with my charming hubby, we had the chance to hunt down Café Du Monde.  Café Du Monde is the original French Market coffee stand, in the French Quarters of New Orleans. They serve Café Au Lait and hot beignets (French doughnuts) 24 hours a day, year round. This "coffee stand", actually an open air café, was established in 1862.
                                                                 

When ordering at Café Du Monde, you say, "I'll have an order and a Café Au Lait".  Easy to remember, since there are only two items on the menu!  It was a lot of fun to eat there, but if you can't visit them anytime soon and you want to try some beignets yourself, here are a couple of ways you can!


You could buy Café Du Mondes' Beignet Mix on line at www.cafedumonde.com.  They are very easy to make.  You only have to add water and roll them out and fry them. Oh, and the most important step, while hot, roll them in powered sugar!


Or, if you are an avid baker, you could whip them up from scratch. Below is a beignet recipe originally found at www.whatscookingamerica.net

Beignet Recipe

1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast 
Vegetable oil for deep frying*
Powdered (confectioner's) It's Just for dusting


Preparation:


Stand-Up Mixer: Using a mixer with a dough hook, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. Remove dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.

Bread Machine: Using a bread machine, add the ingredient (listed above) in the order given to the bread machine. Select Dough Setting and press Start. When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.



Making the Beignets: Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly-floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles (your choice); set aside.


In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F.

This is the type of cooking and meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking. I get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking, baking, and deep frying. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer shown in the photo on the right. Originally designed for professional users, the Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world. To learn more about this excellent thermometer and to also purchase one (if you desire), just click on the underlined: Thermapen Thermometer.

Slide the dough pieces slowly into the hot oil (this is to avoid splattering) and fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides; turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown. The beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff.  NOTE: If the beignets don't rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. An easy way to coat the hot beignets in powdered sugar is to place the powdered sugar an a clean bag. Add the beignets to the bag, hold bag close and shake to coat evenly.

Serve while still warm.

The dough can be kept for up to 1 week in the refrigerator - it actually improves with age; just punch down when it rises. Dough can also be frozen; cut and roll, or shape doughnuts before freezing.)

Makes approximately 18 to 24 beignets.


Enjoy them with a homemade Café Au Lait and ~Voila!  The French do it right, no?