How to make Beignets

Happy National Doughnut Day!  Normally I'd say there's nothing better than a sweet, tender Krispy Kreme plain glazed donut, but today I decided to get all fancy and celebrate this important holiday by making my own donuts.  To be more precise, I made beignets, which don't actually have holes: they're square, pillow-shaped deep fried pastries popularized in New Orleans.  In fact, I got the recipe from The Princess and the Frog Cookbook; since the movie is set in New Orleans, all the recipes in the cookbook are inspired by New Orleans dishes.

Tiana's Famous Beignets

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil, for frying
Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1) In a medium bowl, combine 2 3/4 cups of the flour with the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.  Whisk everything together.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, water, egg, and vanilla extract.  Stir in the flour mixture from Step 1.

(you will end up with a very soft dough)

3) Use some of the remaining flour to dust your work surface.  Place the dough on it and pat it into a large 1/2-inch-thick square.  Dust the top with more flour if it gets sticky.  Next, slice the dough into 2 1/2-inch squares.

4) Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a heavy saucepan on the stovetop until the temperature reaches 325 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer.  Check the temperature every so often while cooking.  If it gets too hot, temporarily turn the heat down, or off.

5) Carefully drop 3 dough squares at a time into the hot oil.  Fry them for 3 minutes, turn them over, and continue frying for 3 more minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beignets to a wire rack set atop paper towels to drain.  Dust with beignets with confectioners' sugar, and enjoy!

Here's a video of 8 year-old Pea demonstrating how to fry the beignets.  It was our first time making them so we had no idea how much the squares would puff up!  We ended up with gargantuan beignets that time :)

For this year's batch I cut the dough into much smaller pieces so the resulting beignets were much more manageable (and much easier to pop into hungry mouths).

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