Laisses les bon temps rouler!
We would have to say that over and over again on Mardi Gras when I was in my high school French class. We would celebrate every year by having a feast, listening to music, and playing games. It was the best day of the year. We didn't have to learn French!
Everyone would bring something to eat to share with the class. Some people brought jambalaya, gumbo, or red beans and rice. I remember bringing in pralines. I love pralines! I should have made some this year... darn it.
I actually ate my first pecan praline in New Orleans!
My family went to the south on vacation one year, and we visited New Orleans and the French Quarter on one day. We wandered around and went into shops, listened to jazz bands, and of course, ate. We stopped into a shop that claimed to have the best pralines in New Orleans. I can't remember what the name of the store was, but I do remember that their pralines were incredible. So good! I've been a praline lover ever since.
I wanted to stop at Cafe du Monde to try their chicory coffee and beignet, but it was way too busy. Hopefully someday I can go back. I've always wanted to go to Mardi Gras... anyone want to go with me in 2012?
This was my first time making beignet, even though I've wanted to for a long time. I made these just yesterday, because I knew I wanted to have a special Fat Tuesday recipe for you all.
This is an (big) easy recipe for beignet. Sure, it does use yeast, but it's simple and straightforward. You can do it! First you make a dough in your mixer using yeast, milk, sugar, salt, egg, butter and flour. Then you let the dough rise for an hour before shaping and slicing into squares. After rising another hour, the dough is ready for frying or baking.
I confess, I baked these. I wanted to fry them, but I've been trying to eat healthier for the past couple of weeks. I recommend frying these beignet for the ultimate beignet experience; just fry them for about 2 minutes per side in a little bit of hot oil.
Or, you could bake them if you don't want to deal with frying. They still tasted like a doughnut to me, and they were very good... light and fluffy and covered with cinnamon-sugar. Mmm.
Happy Mardi Gras!
PS - Here's my king cake recipe if you need one!
Big Easy Beignet
1/3 cup warm milk (not hot)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons oil, divided use
3 tablespoons granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Whisk together milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until slightly bubbly.
Add egg, sugar, butter, vanilla and salt, and mix until well combined. Add flour and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a large greased bowl, lightly cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm area for 1-1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
Brush a cookie sheet with 2 teaspoons oil. On a clean work surface, pat dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle, and slice into 6 equal squares. Transfer squares to oiled cookie sheet. Lightly cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush dough squares with additional 2 teaspoons oil. Bake 10 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Dip beignet into cinnamon sugar mixture.
Makes 6 beignet