Beignets: Deep-fried Ambrosia Made Healthier

One of my friends goes to Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was shocked when I admitted that I’ve never been to Nola in downtown Palo Alto. So we made a dinner date for Friday night to sample this southern cuisine.

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My friend is all smiles before the feast

After several drinks (including the aptly-named The Hurricane), lots of chicken, mac ‘n cheese, bread, and carbs, my friend went ahead and ordered dessert I’d never heard of: beignets. Oh my god. I could have rolled out of there just after the first massive drink but when those little rectangles of heaven on a plate showed up I forgot all of my full-tummy woes.

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Dough. Covered in sugar. Deep-fried. Covered in powdered sugar. Served with caramel, chocolate, and raspberry sugar syrups. Holy shit.

As you can see, there were 6 beignets and 2 of us… not a problem. I put one in a box to take home to my dad and we split the rest. It was sinful. My favorite sauce was the raspberry because it added a tart edge to the otherwise sweet, sweet, sweet doughnut pastry. I had been eating healthy and working out all week so I didn’t hate myself after consuming too many of these sugar-coated temptations, but I resolved myself to find a healthier alternative that I could enjoy even more without a gnawing mixture of feelings of guilt and fuck-it-I’ll-get-fat excitement.

**I realize that my description of these beignets is saturated with religious undertones… I may have had a religious experience during my interaction with the dessert, I’m not sure.

So here is the healthier recipe for oven baked beignets, courtesy of Jenna from Eat, Live, Run.

Jenna’s recipe: Oven Baked Beignets:

makes about 18 beignets

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp cold butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

What to do:

  1. Combine the yeast, warm water and a pinch of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside for five minutes. The water will start to look foamy and bubble a little bit. That’s normal.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingers, cut in the butter and work mixture together until it resembles coarse sand.
  3. Mix together the egg and the buttermilk. Add to yeast and then add to dry ingredients. Stir together to form a soft dough and then continue to knead (or use your Kitchen Aid) until dough becomes smooth and elastic. If using a Kitchen Aid, keep your speed on medium and beat with paddle attachment (or dough hook) for 6-8 minutes until smooth. If using your hands, make sure you are working on a lightly floured surface. The dough will feel smooth like pizza dough when it’s done.
  4. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and drop in your dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Then, roll out dough into a large rectangle or square on a floured surface. Cut square into five long strips and then cut those strips into squares. Place squares on a lined baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake beignets for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Dust with powdered sugar and eat warm.

Time:

1 hour

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