For years, I have been dying to sample one of the world-famous beignets from Café Du Monde.
Located in the heart of the French Market district of New Orleans, Café Du Monde claims to be the original coffee stand, boasting a 159-year history revolving around the art of making beignets.
After seeing videos (check one out here) of locals raving about these sugary pastry pillows, I knew I had to try one for myself!
Beignets are fritter-like squares of pastry that are fried and covered with powdered sugar. I haven’t had the pleasure of making the trip down to New Orleans to try one myself, but it is definitely on my bucket list.
With the pandemic, traveling and sampling local food has been challenging, so I decided to recreate these hot French Quarter treats from my own New England kitchen. After this, you’ll never want to go back to ordinary fried dough!
There is a great debate over the best way to prepare a beignet, so I compiled the most commonly repeated ingredients from a few different recipes. This makes about 20-24 beignets.
Prep Time: 10 minutes / Resting time: 90 minutes / Cook Time: 15 minutes
>> 1 cup warm water (105° to 110°)
>> 2 teaspoons active yeast
>> 1/3 cup of sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
>> 2/3 cup whole milk (I want to try this with buttermilk too!)
>> 1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
>> 3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
>> 1 teaspoon salt
>> 4 1/3 cup all purpose flour
>> Neutral oil for frying (I used vegetable oil, but Café Du Monde swears by cottonseed oil. I wasn’t able to find any around me, but I’d love to hear your results if you find some.)
>> Powdered sugar and honey for topping
1. Proof your yeast by adding the warm water, yeast, and one tablespoon of sugar to a standing mixer bowl or large bowl and whisk until combined. Let sit for 7-10 minutes until it foams and bubbles form on top. If this doesn’t happen, the yeast is not active and you need to restart with fresh yeast.
2. Add the remaining sugar, milk, egg plus one yolk, and melted butter, and whisk until combined.
3. Using the hook attachment on your stand mixer, mix in the salt and flour on medium speed until smooth. Your dough should start to pull away from the inside of the bowl. This took me about two minutes. *Note: you can absolutely do this by hand, but the process may take longer to achieve a smooth dough.
4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit in a warm place (I used my oven, turned off) until it has doubled in size, about 90 minutes. This step is key, so be patient! The dough may take up to two-plus hours to rise fully. Wait for it to double in size before you move on.
5. After the dough has risen, transfer to a clean surface dusted with flour and roll out until it is ½” to ¾” thick. Using a pizza slicer, I cut 2″ squares. For curiosity, I did play with size and really enjoyed larger ones too. Just remember to fry those ones a bit longer. This is also a great time to get your oil heating up to 350°.
6. Once the oil has reached the right temp (I used my candy thermometer to keep track), carefully drop in 4-5 beignets. Fry until the bottom side is a dark golden brown, about 1-2 minutes, then, using a wooden spoon, lightly tap each one to flip it over. Cook this side the same way.
7. Once the beignets are golden brown on both sides, use a slotted spoon or skimmer spoon to remove them from the oil and place on a wire rack to drip dry.
8. Once dry, coat heavily in powdered sugar and serve. I also heard that honey is a popular topping, so some of mine came with honey drizzles and tons of sugar. Yum! And remember, the hotter the better, so make sure to eat them when they are nice and fresh.
(For a vegan option, check out this recipe.)
These beignets are a labor of love, but you will not be disappointed. My husband and I fried them up together while listening to some jazzy music and we felt like we were instantly transported to NOLA.