For those who know me, I'm not a huge fan of desserts. I take savory over sweet any day. I have never baked any cookies or cakes or made any desserts until my pastry module in school last year. It was an overwhelming experience for me. I was totally intimidated. I know how to cook but making pastries and cakes? That's just not my thing. I was afraid I would be terrible at it. I confessed to my chef instructor right away, and he reassured me that it's ok, we can get through this together. I still remember him telling me not to be afraid of the dough when I was rolling out my puff pastries and bread dough. Through the guidance of my patient instructor, Chef Jeff, I became more confident and started to enjoy making desserts.
So from time to time, I experiment, this time I made beignets as these little fried dough are one of my absolute favorites. I love all things fried, fried chicken is the ultimate comfort food for me. As to dessert, topping my top 5 list has to be beignets.
A few years ago, I went to a local French restaurant. As we sat waiting for our first course to arrive, I saw these mini copper pots filled with beignets and I couldn't keep my eyes off of them as it seems everyone around us was ordering them for desserts. So of course I had to have them, and they are the most amazing little bites I've had. These beignets are stuffed with chocolate truffles! As you put one in your mouth, the warm chocolate just melts in your mouth along with the soft puffy dough, it was heaven! This restaurant no longer serves them as they now have a different owner/chef, but I got to know the chef and his family, and he told me how it is made. Though I haven't made an attempt to make those yet but soon and when I do, I'm sure you'll hear about them.
Anyway, before I start making the truffle stuffed beignets I thought I would try making the regular beignets. However after a twice-failed attempt Sunday night, I took a break and thought I would do some research on Monday. As a follower of Michael Ruhlman's blog, to my surprise I found on Monday morning, he posted a new entry about a pate a choux recipe which is the dough I need to make beignets. I was so excited that I wrote him and told him about the synchronicity. He was nice enough to reply and told me to check the ratio of the recipe as his new book is all about ratio. He uses this particular ratio for his pate a choux, 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour and 2 parts eggs. So I thanked him and told him I can't wait to go home and make my attempt number 3.
Well I went home last night and did exactly what he said and this time, the dough was light and fluffy, it was exactly the way it should be. I was so excited. This is such an easy recipe, anyone can do it so go ahead and give it a try.
Beignets (this recipe makes about 2 dozen)
1 cup of water
1 stick of butter
1 cup of flour
2 tbsp of sugar
1/4 cup of chopped pecans (or any nuts you like or nuts are optional)
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
Boil water, butter, salt and sugar in a pot in high heat until it comes to a rolling boil.
Take the mixture off the heat then add in the flour and stir rapidly.
Put it back on medium heat and keep stirring until all the water is absorbed into the flour and the dough will pull to the side of the pot, cook for another minute or so.
Take it off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
In another pot, heat some vegetable or canola oil for frying.
While the dough is cooling, you can add chopped pecans or any nuts you like.
Pour the mixture in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle.
Add one egg at a time, and mix until the egg is completely absorbed before adding the next egg.
The dough will become a bit sticky like a paste.
Using a teaspoon, scoop about a teaspoon or less dough, use another teaspoon to push the dough into the pot of oil for deep frying.
The dough will puff up and get larger, fried until golden brown.
Finish them with powdered sugar.
By the way, if you don't have a standing mixer, you can do this by hand with a wooden spoon and just stir. Be sure to let the pot cools before adding the eggs. These are best to enjoy while they are hot, so make a batch and share with your friends and family.