I remember YEARS ago in school, we celebrated Mardi Gras in French Class. Guess it had something to do with the French Quarter in New Orleans. Whatever the connection, it was always fun to wear beads and have a piece of King Cake ... aways careful not to bite too hard in case that little plastic baby was in your piece of cake. Years later I would be introduced to a pastry called a beignet ... and my world would be forever changed. These light french puffs of pastry dusted in powdered sugar just melt in your mouth and will cause your taste buds to sing in pure joy.
Here's a recipe from a southern gal, Paula Dean.
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups bread flour
1/4 cup shortening
Oil, for deep-frying
3 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together. Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, measure out the bread flour. Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add the shortening and continue to stir while adding the remaining flour. Remove dough from the bowl, place onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray. Put dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.
Add the confectioners' sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.
Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color. After beignets are fried, drain them for a few seconds on paper towels, and then toss them into the bag of confectioners' sugar. Hold bag closed and shake to coat evenly.