Monday, February 15, 2010

French Market Beignet Doughnuts

Beignets are slightly sweet fritters, deep fried and sprinkled with a generous dousing of powdered sugar. Best when served with a strong New Orleans chicory coffee.

Beignet Doughnuts

At this writing, it's Shrove Monday, or the Monday before Ash Wednesday, now mostly just referred to as Lundi Gras, meaning that Carnival season is winding down and the Lenten season is about to begin. It is the time that certain Christian denominations, in particular Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran, begin to reflect, prepare for confession, and seek penance to obtain absolution for our sins. It is, in essence, the day before the final blowout - Fat Tuesday. No better appropriate time to bring you my final recipe to add to the Mardi Gras brunch and party foods list for New Orleans Style Café au Lait and French Market Beignets!

Oh my gosh, the memories associated with beignets for me are many and they are all associated with one place, the Café du Mondé coffee stand, in the Old Jackson Square area of the French Market in downtown New Orleans.

Café du Mondé, established in 1862, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for Christmas (and the occasional hurricane threat) and sells primarily two things - chicory coffee and beignets. Beignets are essentially deep fried, only slightly sweet fritters, that are sprinkled with a generous dousing of powdered sugar and served straight out of the fryer. At the coffee stand they come in orders of three, which is just the right amount.

Grabbing a plate of these hot beignets and a cup of café au lait after a long night out and about in town - and more specifically, the French Quarter - was just the ticket to wind down the night, and we did it often. Served primarily al fresco, though they do have a teeny, tiny indoor seating area, it didn't matter whether it was 40 degrees outside or 100, 5:00 o'clock at night, or 3:00 o'clock in the morning, I can never remember being there where this place was not busy. It was and remains a tradition when in New Orleans, along with the silly practice of blowing the powdered sugar off onto one another, a practice everyone hates, but which always seems to happen.

Beignets, like any doughnut, are best served hot and fresh out of the fryer and with a hot cup of café au lait. This batch makes about 30 to 40 squares, depending on how thick you roll them, perfect for a Mardi Gras brunch before the parades. Still looking for some Mardi Gras party food ideas? Click right here and grab some inspiration.

Just want a few beignets or in a hurry? Scroll down to the very bottom and check out my Cheater Beignets too!

Check out more of my dessert recipes and sweet treats on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe: French Market Beignet Doughnuts

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 15 min

Total time: 30 min
Yield: About 30 doughnuts

  • 1 envelope (2-1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Powdered sugar, sifted

Dissolve the yeast and a pinch of the sugar in the warm water and set aside. Whisk the flour and set aside. Pour the boiling water over the shortening and stir until the shortening is melted.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the sifted flour with the sugar and salt, melted shortening, milk, egg, and yeast mixture. Add enough additional flour to form a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll thin - somewhere between 1/4-inch and 1/8-inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, square off the dough, reserving all pieces; cut dough into 2-inch squares. Let dough rest while you preheat oil in a deep pot or deep fryer to 360 degrees F.

Drop into hot fryer and brown on one side until golden, flip and brown on the other side. Remove and drain on a rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar and serve immediately with a piping hot cup of café au lait.

Cook's Notes: Makes between 30 and 40, depending on how thick you roll them. Sometimes you will need all of the flour, sometimes you'll need less - depends on the weather, rain, humidity, etc. in my opinion!

Sopapillas: Omit powdered sugar and dust these generously with a cinnamon sugar mix as soon as they exit the fryer and again as they cool slightly. Serve with honey.


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©Deep South Dish

Lagniappe: Easy Cheater Beignets
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

1 or 2 cans of regular (small) refrigerator biscuits
Powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat fryer to 360 degrees. Roll out the biscuits until they are thin. Cut in quarters or halves and drop in the hot oil, browning on one side until golden, flip and brown on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels, sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar and serve immediately.
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Old Fashioned Coffee Cake
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Photo Credit Fuzzy at Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Posted by on February 15, 2010
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  1. Hello Mary, first of all thank you for visiting my blog! And then well I could not resist anything with French in the title. This looks delicious! I will give a go.
    I have also become one of your many followers. Looking forward to getting to know your cooking style! xxx

  2. Lentils season is here?! Great, I've been craving a good soup!

    Huh what? Ohhhh. Nevermind, I misunderstood ;)

  3. When I was in New Orleans I loved visiting Cafe du Monde and having Beignets! Those look so tasty...oh my goodness....


    There is nothing better than sitting on the corner of Jackson Square, watching boats tug by on the Mississippi, moss blowing in the live oaks, and sipping a cup of chicory with these little jewels...

    Mr. S and I took the Indians there last March and they covered themselves with powdered sugar...

    Thanks for the recipe, and the fond memories!

  5. Oh my goodness, Mary, you do have the best food where you live! Gosh, the beignets look so sweet and sugary! Only one more day, as you said, until I've gotta give something up for Lent. Hmmmm...I think I'll give up the 'white' stuff to help me lose some more weight! I've already given up French Fries, and that's my hardest thing in the world to live without! Have a great Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras! Roz

  6. I need to get to New Orleans! Honestly, as I was driving my daughter home from her dance class tonight the word "Beignet" came into my head. Weird, I know. I love your description of the coffee shop. It all sounds wonderful.

  7. You are so right. There is nothing like Café du Mondé! Loving your recipe for this delicious treat!

    (And I adore your cheat beignets!)

  8. And if you order 3, you will get 9

    Great post... Keeping this recipe!

  9. OMG - Now I'm really hungry. And sad that I cannot be in my hometown to enjoy all the Mardi Gras benefits!

  10. Oh my, how I could go for some of these right now!

  11. Mary, I'm so glad I found this site. I just used the "cheater" beignets as an energizer for kids doing chores. We all ate too many, but then worked them off! Perfect. Your recipes make me happy!

  12. Thanks so much Barbie! Yeah, those cheater beignets come in handy for a quick energizer! Glad y'all enjoyed them and thanks for being a loyal reader.

  13. I was always partial to Miss Mary's (Mary Mahoneys lol) but cafe Dumonde's were good too, their coffee was certainly better.

    I can cook anything but am the worlds WORST baker. When you say 4 cups of sifted flour, does that mean measure out 4 cups of flour and then sift it or does that mean 4 cups of the flour AFTER it's sifted? Can't wait to try this one out, although perhaps I should pass it on to my wife. She's the "baker" in the family.

    Haven't gotten there yet but I'm hoping you have a Mississippi mud recipe on here.............

  14. I sure miss Mahoney's cafe. They closed it you know. I'm not much of a baker either but these beignets are easy. As far as that sifted flour thing, "4 cups of sifted flour" to me would mean sifted flour first, then measured to 4 cups, where "4 cups of flour, sifted" would mean measure 4 cups first then sift. That said, some people don't think that way when they write their recipes so it can mess things up pretty good if they don't specify.

    I don't have a Mississippi Mud Cake up on the site yet, but email me and I'll send you the recipe. Just haven't gotten around to making it to take pics and put it up. I have mud bars, but they are more dense than the cake. You can find the bars here:

  15. i like frozen dinner roll dough better than biscuit dough for cheater beignets. being a yeast dough i think it's closer to a real one. i use rhodes brand.

    mike in rabbit hash, ky.

    1. I'm a big fan of them too Mike! The biscuits just make the process a much quicker version, but yes, absolutely the rolls are great for cheater beignets.

  16. We live in Myrtle Beach SC and love New Orleans. We try to get down there at least 2 times a year. There is nothing better than strolling the streets around Jackson Square and talking to the people. We share so much....we're southern, warm, friendly people....lovin' life! I guarantee!

    1. Lanie, what a wonderful comment! Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Hello! Quick question, can I swap out the 2 tbsp shortening+water with butter? The equivalent should be about 1/4 cup melted butter, correct? Thank you!

    1. Hi Chelsea! I've only made them with the shortening, though I'm sure butter would stand in as well. I don't know that I would eliminate the water, and you may need to up the butter a bit too, but without having made that substitution I'm not sure how the dough would be affected.

    2. Thank you for your reply! I'll have to give them a go, do some experimenting and share my results! Thanks again

    3. Yes, please do! And now, I'M craving beignets lol!!

  18. Mary, Thank you for posting this. It couldn’t have come at a better time, and I don’t believe in coincidences. I’ve been going nuts looking through my files for the past couple of days, for my beignets recipe. Several months ago, I lost my computer to a catastrophic failure and a corrupt OpSys. I had to buy a new one. I managed to salvage most of the programs and data. Sadly, many of my recipes didn’t convert and were lost. This was one of them and was a recipe that I’d gotten from the head chef at Café Du Monde in 1976. As you know, Shrove Tuesday is upon us. We don’t have the usual ‘pancake supper’ at our church, at least not while I’m still alive. I make my southern specialty, even though I'm from NYC originally. Each portion consists of a split homemade Southern style buttermilk biscuit. Each half is topped with 2 halves of thin sliced crispy bacon. Then each half is topped with a perfectly poached egg. Then the whole thing is smothered with my homemade sausage gravy and topped with crispy bacon crumbles. The meal is not complete without my homemade beignets.
    Again, many thanks. Have a great day. God bless.

  19. Yes, indeed! That's a meal to remember Chris. I hope the beignets are somewhat like your recipe. I've lost data myself with a crash and it's very unpleasant. I've also got an Apple desktop that is locked up right now because I accepted an OS update that apparently there was not enough room for. It filled up my hard drive and while I think I can boot it from an external drive and revert back, frankly I haven't had time to look into it. Computers have come a long way from when I first started using one and are amazing pieces of machinery, until they don't do what they're supposed to!!

    1. Mary, Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner to thank you for this recipe. But Shrove Tuesday was a bit hectic for me. After singlehandedly making my above menu for 50+ people, including beignets, I was ready to go home to a few ‘adult brown beverages,’ and slip into something more comfortable; like a coma. Your recipe was very good. Everyone enjoyed it. There are 2 things that I do differently. One is to let the dough rise for 30 min. to 1 hr. in the refrigerator. Believe it or not, the dough will rise and also become less sticky. Secondly, if you can help it, always drain fried foods on a sheet pan that’s been topped with a cooling rack. Fried foods that are drained on paper towels will start to reabsorb the oil as they cool; even by only a couple of degrees.
      BTW, I know your pain. I spent 30+ years as an electronics engineer and a degreed and certified IT professional, in NYC and Long Island, NY. I’ve got around 30+ certifications from every major computer manufacturer and software developer, on the planet. And people wonder why I talk to myself and have very little hair left. I used to be one of Apples top A.A.S.P.’s (service providers). I wasn’t listed as an expert. I was listed as a deity. Now-a-days, I help people reluctantly with their computer problems. I’m burnt out! And I won’t go near Apple anymore. They’re not what they used to be.
      Thanks again for this recipe. As I said, you published this just when I needed it. And I don’t believe in coincidences. Have a great day. God bless.

  20. I see you use yeast in your recipe,but I just watched an interview with the owner of Cafe di Monde and he said there is no yeast in his.

    1. Well, these aren't his, they're mine! :) I'm sure whatever recipe Cafe du Monde uses is a closely guarded secret. They may use baking powder and/or soda for their leavening, but my preference is yeast because it makes for a much lighter and fluffier beignet. Most people I know do use a yeast dough.


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