Mardi Gras is only a day away, but whether you're a New Orleans native or not, there's no reason not to celebrate with a batch of scrumptious beignets.
A traditional treat down in the Big Easy, beignets are deep-fried French pastries topped with mounds of powdered sugar. But if you can't make it down to NOLA's famed restaurants and cafes for these sinful sweets, why not try making them at home?
We were lucky enough to snag the secret behind orange-scented beignets from Thaddeus DuBois, a former White House pastry chef and the current executive pastry chef at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. Once you taste DuBois' decadent recipe, you'll find out why they're a perfect fit for Fat Tuesday — or any Tuesday, for that matter.
(Note: Chef DuBois recommends using an electric stand mixer for best results.)
Orange-Scented Beignets for Mardi Gras
- 1/4 cup fresh yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 cup milk
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup fresh eggs (about 4 large eggs)
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water (orange liqueur may be substituted)
- 2 quarts canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 pound powdered sugar, for dredging
- Crumble yeast into water and whisk in the mixing bowl of the electric mixer.
- Add all other ingredients — save for the vegetable oil and powdered sugar — and mix for 8 minutes with the hook attachment.
- Remove from the mixer and place dough into a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and place in a warm place and let rest for one hour. Dough should nearly double in size.
- Tip dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to 1/2-inch thick.
- Cut into 2-inch squares and place squares on a plate.
- Preheat the oil to 330 F, using a fat thermometer to gauge the temperature. When oil has reached 330 F, gently release the square pieces of beignet dough into the heated oil and begin frying. Let the first side brown before turning over with tongs. Brown the second side. The whole frying process should take about 1 to 1.5 minutes.
- When done frying, remove beignets from oil and place on a draining pan lined with paper towels, for just a few seconds.
- Roll or gently toss (or completely dredge) fried beignets in the sugar and serve.