Saturday, May 29, 2010

A cloud pillow of dreams

It is just the most sublime experience to bite into a pillowy vanilla-scented beignet and then sip coffee right after. It is like the world stops and everything is peace and pleasure.

I had never tasted a beignet before but the idea of it has intrigued me for a few months -- I've been staring at pictures of it. I tasted merveilles at Prune in New York 3 months ago, and though they were delicious, they were a bit heavy. This beignet is like eating a sweet vanilla cloud - tender and hollow on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside. It must be eaten warm, immediately after a powdery dusting of sugar.

Yes it's fried and though it seems tedious to fry, it is simply worth it. 100% worth it.


We ate them with shakshooka and oven fries and French-pressed coffee. It is one of our best brunches.

Serves 6-8 people

1 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 tsp + 2 tbs sugar
1 tbs water, warm
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 of a large beaten egg
1/3 cup warm milk
1 1/2 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Rapeseed / Canola oil for frying
Powdered sugar and vanilla powder for dusting

1. Proof yeast: In a large mixing bowl, add warm water (slightly warmer than luke warm), 1/2 tsp sugar and yeast and stir. Within 3 - 5 minutes you should see bubbles or foam - that tells you it's alive and well.

2. Add flour, salt, sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and milk to the yeast mixture and knead for a minute.  It's better for the dough to be soft and moist (and almost sticky) rather than dry so use only enough flour to knead into a soft dough.

3. Lightly grease the same bowl and dough with canola oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The above only takes about 10 minutes, so you can do it after a night out, with the promise of something heavenly in the morning.)

4. In the morning, bring the dough to room temperature, which takes about two or three hours.

5. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into squares or diamonds.

6. Preheated oil in a heavy-bottom pot to medium high -- not too hot, or the beignets will be cooked on the outside but raw on the inside. Fry the beignets, flipping after the bottom is golden brown. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan, I usually fry 2-4 at a time in my saucepan. Drain on a paper towel after evenly golden brown, then douse in vanilla-scented powder sugar. Eat immediately.

Enjoy warm with a cup of coffee.

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