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French Quarter Beignets

Servings: Makes 24 beignets
What is a Beignet?

A traditional New Orleans yeast pastry that is deep-fried and served hot with a generous dusting of confectioners' sugar. The name comes from the French word for "fritter." Savory beignets, such as herb or crab, are also very popular.

Source: The Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Cafe du Monde, located in the French Quarter of New Orleans is the most famous cafe in town. Everybody goes to this Jackson Square institution for Beignets and Cafe au lait. These beignets are delicious served with confectioners' sugar, fresh blueberry sauce, or any good-quality purchased fruit sauce and even eaten on their own.

Blueberry Sauce: (optional)
4 pints fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water

1 cup warm milk (about 105 to 115 degrees F/40 to 46 degrees C)
1 package (2 1/4 tsp./7g) dry yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 medium eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick/4 oz/56g) butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups (or more) all-purpose flour

Solid vegetable shortening (for deep-frying)

Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Blueberry Sauce: (optional)
Puree all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Strain through fine sieve into heavy medium saucepan. Season sauce to taste with more sugar, if necessary. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat until syrupy, about 20 minutes.

Do-Ahead Tip:
Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Combine milk and yeast in large bowl; let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs and melted butter. Add 3 cups flour and stir to form moist sticky dough.

Knead dough on floured work surface, incorporating flour as necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky, about 10 minutes. Form into ball. Lightly oil same large bowl; place dough in bowl. Cover with kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.

Heat shortening in deep-fryer to 325 degrees F (160 C). Transfer dough to floured work surface. Punch dough down; cover with kitchen towel and let stand for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle dough with flour. Using rolling pin, roll out dough into 12-inch square. Using pizza cutter, trim edges slightly to form perfect square. Cut dough crosswise into 4 equal strips. Cut each strip into 6 pieces, forming 24 rectangles total.

Working in batches, fry dough rectangles in hot oil until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Using slotted metal spoon, transfer beignets to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Arrange 3 beignets on each of 8 plates. Ladle blueberry sauce (optional) over and around beignets. Generously sprinkle confectioners' sugar over beignets. Alternatively, place beignets on platter. Generously sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve blueberry sauce (optional) alongside.

Makes 24 beignets.

Source: DianasDesserts.com
Date: July 22, 2002