These festive Dazzling Diamond Beignets will be sure to light up your Mardi Gras! Whether you’re having a party or just making them for fun, they are delicious and a great treat.
|Colorfully coated diamond shaped Beignets|
My love affair with doughnuts began at Bill’s Donuts while I was in high school. In knew I liked doughnuts before then, but we didn’t eat them at home often and when we did they were the dried out powdered sugar rounds found in a cardboard box in the grocery store.
I wouldn’t turn one of those down as a kid, mind you, but eating the real deal was immensly more pleasurable. In high school I became friends with David and he introduced me to Bill, well his doughnuts anyway. I never actually formally met Bill, although I saw him in his flour covered bakery whites every time we passed by the doughnut kitchen on our way into the dining room where we spent endless hours over the course of our high school years.
We sat in our favorite booth chatting about school, friends, and life while we indulged in our favorites – cream horns and custard filled long johns. I haven’t eaten doughnuts much since high school, but whenever I do, I can’t help but reminisce about the wonderful times we spent at Bill’s.
I’m sure had I grown up in New Orleans our hangout would have been a local beignet shop and our memories would have been powdered sugar covered and sweet. Beignets, if you aren’t aware, are a specialty in New Orleans and a popular treat during Mardi Gras.
I remember my parents coming home from a visit there and raving about these little sweet delicacies as if they were small puffs of edible gold. My mom isn’t a sweet eater, so hearing her gushing over a doughnut made me yearn to taste one.
That didn’t happen until just a few years ago when I learned to make them while attending the cooking class held at the Jekyll Island Hotel. I fell instantly in love with the freshly fried puffs of dough covered in a sweet dusting of powdered sugar.
This year for Mardi Gras I decided to jazz up my beignets. I cut them into diamonds and tossed them in brightly colored powdered sugar. I simply added drops of liquid food coloring to the sugar and pulsed it in the food processor until fully incorporated, but you can also rub food coloring into the powdered sugar with your hands. I suggest you wear food handling gloves or powder free latex gloves so you don’t end up with colored hands. Green, yellow (or gold), and purple (or magenta) are traditional Mardi Gras colors and it was easy to tint the sugar these colors using green, yellow and neon purple colorings. If you can’t find neon purple coloring, just mix red and blue together to get a nice purple.
This will make a lot of beignets. O.K., sorry I didn’t count just how many, but I’ll guess it was about 80 of the 1″ diamonds. Unless you have a huge family that is way too many for one day. Just keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to a week and fry them up as you want them. They are not good left over. They are best served warm out of the fryer.
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface
1/4 cup shortening
non-stick cooking spray
oil, for deep frying
3 cups confectioners sugar
green, yellow, neon purple liquid food colorings
Special Equipment Needed:
food processor or food handling gloves
3 paper bags
pizza cutter or knife
parchment or wax paper
deep fryer or stock pot
|Water, sugar, and yeast resting for 10 minutes. Yeast has activated and is bubbly.|
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl (large enough to hold about 12 cups of ingredients). Set aside for 10 minutes to allow time for yeast to activate. In a small bowl, beat egg, salt, and evaporated milk together. Pour this into the bowl of yeast.
Add 3 cups of the flour and stir just to combine. Stir in the shortening then add the remaining flour. Stir until dough comes together in a ball. Lightly flour work surface. Knead dough until smooth.
Spray the inside of a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Meanwhile color the powdered sugar. Sift 1 cup of powdered sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Add 30 drops of green food coloring. Pulse for 15 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the coloring from the bottom and sides of the bowl. Pulse for 15 more seconds. Add more coloring if desired and repeat. Pour the colored sugar into a sifter and sift onto a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Allow sugar to dry until dough is ready. Do the same for the yellow and purple colored sugar.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use your hands. Sift 1 cup powdered sugar onto a large sheet of parchment or wax paper. Put food handling gloves on your hands. Add 30 drops of food coloring to the powdered sugar.
Pick up some powdered sugar and rub both hands together in order to rub the color into the powdered sugar. Continue to rub until you no longer see streaks or blobs of coloring on the powdered sugar and the sugar is nicely colored.
If needed, add more drops of coloring until you reach the desired shade. Sift the colored powdered sugar onto a piece of parchment paper and allow to dry.
Once your colored sugars have dried, pour each color into a separate paper bag.
Preheat oil in a deep fryer or a stock pot to 370 degrees.
Dust work surface lightly with flour. Roll dough out into a large rectangle (or several smaller ones) that is 1/4″ thick. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut strips at a diagonal going left to right across the length of the dough. Now cut strips going from right to left creating diamond shapes out of the dough.
Place about 8-9 beignets in the hot oil. They will sink to the bottom but very quickly float to the top. Once they do, you’ll want to constantly flip the beignets over until they are golden brown on each side, about 30-45 seconds. If you don’t flip the beignets often, they will form a bubble on the top side and you wont be able to flip them over because they will stubornly float with the bubble side up.
Place hot beignets on a paper towel to drain the oil then immediately place in a bag of colored powdered sugar. Close the bag and shake to coat. I put 2-3 beignets from each batch in each color. Place beignets on a serving platter and serve warm.
Repeat, allowing the oil to come back up to temperature before frying more. Don’t overcrowd the fryer or the temperature of the oil will get too low.
Enjoy your dazzling diamond beignets within 15 minutes of frying for the very best texture. They are good for about an hour after frying. You can eat them up to two hours later, but they will be getting chewy. After that, you’ll not want to waste the calories. Fry up some fresh ones to enjoy.