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:

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Peach and Blueberry Upside Down Cake

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My mum and I tweaked the traditional upside down cake recipe to make it a little bit healthier by cutting the sugar/fat a little. We:

  • substituted half of the butter with some applesauce
  • cut the amount of granulated sugar in half
  • substitued buttermilk for soymilk with goats milk yogurt

The applesauce puts back in the sweetness that we took out with the sugar. I picked up these tricks on buzzfeed.com and also the Mayo Clinic site. Who knew they were so creative?

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We had the inspiration to create a peachy dessert when we were buying them on impulse at the farmer’s market in downtown Palo Alto. We went there for crepes and left with arm-fulls of fruit, composting dirt, and a bar of handmade marshmallows in dark chocolate with almonds (which was gone by dinnertime). We almost bought a mini pie before we realized we had to stop and work with what we already had.

I don’t remember what cake recipe my mum found on the internet BUT here is a Betty Crocker recipe that seems to have already cut the sugar and uses applesauce! It also goes the extra step to use only egg whites and skim milk.

Fresh out of the oven, our cake was a little moister than I had intended, but I think this was due to the use of applesauce and the fact that our peaches were so fresh and juicy.

This dessert is most deliciously served very warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.