Hot Beignets Recipe

HOT BEIGNETS 

By: Marcelle Bienvenu

We in Louisiana call them beignets, but they are more widely known as fritters. In New Orleans at the French Quarter coffee shops, they are much like a sweet doughnut and dusted with confectioners’ sugar, and are a perfect accompaniment to cafe au lait. In rural areas you might find fruit, such as bananas or apples, and sometimes even sweet potatoes, incorporated in the batter.

I remember two dear elderly ladies in St. Martinville who sometimes made savory ones, using whatever ingredients were at hand, like crawfish, cheese, or eggplant and shrimp. For a time, a miniature version of these were popular hors d’ouevres to serve at cocktail parties and wedding receptions, thus providing the ladies with a brisk business for quite a few years.

An incident, or what Rock called an accident, in my kitchen recently inspired me to do a little research on the subject of fritters. In an effort to make biscuits for breakfast I ACCIDENTALLY added too much milk to my mixture thus ending up with a batter rather than dough. To cover up my mistake, I added some chopped bananas and pecans to the batter, dropped it by tablespoons into hot oil, and voila, we had fritters. Rock’s only comment was that although he was expecting biscuits he was just as pleased with the beignets. There were two or three leftover which I offered later in the morning to my two young great-nieces who came by for a visit. Ever since, they’ve been bugging me for more of those “banana things.”

Now I’ve been challenged to find more fritter recipes to offer to the rest of the family who have heard about the “banana things.”

You might want to try these out on your family. I’ve included a basic beignet recipe as well as some variations for both sweet and savory ones.

BASIC BEIGNETS

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 large egg

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

Pinch of nutmeg

4 to 6 cups vegetable oil

Confectioners’ sugar

Combine the water, milk and egg in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and the sugar and mix until the batter is smooth.

Pour the oil into a large, deep pot or a deep fryer and heat to 360 degrees. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil and fry, turning two or three times, until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

BANANA FRITTERS

Makes about 20

2 medium bananas, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk (about)

3 cups vegetable oil

Confectioner’s sugar

Ground cinnamon

Combine the bananas, flour, egg, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add enough milk to make a batter the consistency of a thick pancake batter.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot or deep fryer to 360 degrees. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until the fritters pop up in the oil and are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon.

CHEESE AND NUT BEIGNETS

Makes about 20

3/4 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds (or pecans or walnuts)

1 1/2 cups finely grated Gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil

Spread the nuts on a plate. Mix the cheese and the flour. With an electric mix, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold one quarter of the whites into the cheese mixture. Fold in the remaining whites. Add the hot sauce, salt and black pepper. Gently form the batter into 3/4-inch rounds. Coat completely with the nuts.

Heat about two inches of oil in a deep fryer or heavy skillet to 360 degrees. Gently lower the rounds into the boil, several at a time, and fry until golden brown, about three minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

SHRIMP AND EGGPLANT BEIGNETS

Makes about 2 dozen

1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup onions

1/2 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups solid vegetable shortening

Seasoning mix (combination of 1/8 each of salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder)

Season the eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cayenne. Heat the two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the eggplant until slightly soft, about two to three minutes. Add the onions and sauté for about three minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté until the shrimp turn pink. Remove and set aside to cool.

Combine the eggs,, milk, baking powder, and the remaining one teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, beating until the batter is smooth. Add the eggplant and shrimp mixture and fold to mix.

Heat the shortening in a deep pot or deep fryer to 360 degrees. Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil. When the beignets pop to the surface, roll them around in the oil to brown them evenly. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and serve immediately.

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