Beignets have been somewhat of an obsession for us since we first discovered them back in 2012. If you’ve ever been, or are ever planning on being, in Disneyland this treat is a MUST. There is nothing better than biting into a soft, warm, fried beignet covered in powdered sugar. For those of you that have no idea what a beignet is, they are essentially yeast doughnuts. Made fresh to order, you can find these sweet treats at Cafe Orleans over in New Orleans Square. If you are in Walt Disney World you can find them in Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- French Quarter. $4.99 for three or $6.99 for six. Trust us, you want six! For an extra two dollars you can add a dipping sauce: caramel, strawberry or chicory coffee ganache. They always have a seasonal flavour, but you can never go wrong with the classics. This holiday season Disneyland is serving Hot Chocolate Beignets with marshmallow cream and hot fudge for $9.99 at Cafe Orleans.
So what to do when you aren’t near the parks? I dream about beignets; inside and outside of the park. We aren’t going to be in Disneyland this holiday season but the craving is more than I can stand. So naturally, I decided to recreate the recipe at home. Copycat recipes are a bit of an obsession with me. I’m always trying to recreate my favourite foods at home. Over the years I have made beignets many times at home. We love to have Disney parties with family and friends after getting home from a trip. This usually includes gumbo, beignets, and watching our trip videos. It’s a great way to fight off those Disney blues.
Back to the hot chocolate beignets. I’m still not used to writing down my recipes and stopping to take photos, so I apologize that I don’t have more step by step details. Halfway through making them I remembered to document the process, so there is a video saved to our stories on our Instagram account @stressfreemickey. I’ll do my best to walk you through it step by step.
Start with the dough. The first step in making the dough is to bloom your yeast. You want to have warm, not hot water for this. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast. I just use water right from the tap as hot as it will go. I find it’s the perfect temperature. I bloom the yeast right in the bowl of my kitchen aid. Add 1 tsp of the sugar to the yeast and warm water, the yeast eats the sugar and helps it bloom.
While the yeast is blooming, melt the butter. Some recipes call for vegetable shortening but I prefer the taste of butter. If you are vegan, you could easily adapt this recipe using vegan butter and your favourite dairy free milk. I haven’t tried to make them vegan but if you do, use 1 tablespoon of yeast to make up for the egg. In theory it should work, I’m a sometimes vegan so I’ve only just began to explore vegan baking. Let me know if you try it! Crack the egg into a separate bowl and give it a little whisk.
When the yeast has bloomed, you will be able to smell a slightly sweet bread-like smell and you should see a froth on top of the water. At this point you can add all of the other ingredients. I don’t do any particular order, everyone goes into the bowl! Using the dough hook attachment on the Kitchen Aid, mix everything together until it forms a dough ball. The dough should feel soft and have nice elasticity but it shouldn’t be sticky. If you think the dough is too sticky gently knead in a little more flour. Take the dough out of the bowl and grease it (the bowl) before returning for it to rise. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm spot for an hour and a half to two hours or until it doubles in size.
Here comes the Disney part. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/3 – 1/2 inch thick. You want it slightly thicker than how you would roll out cookies. Using a Mickey cookie cutter (I got mine in the park and a small one online, you can find them on Amazon or shopDisney) cut out the shapes. You don’t want to have to re-roll the dough too much, because it makes it tough. Try and squeeze them close together. One recipe made 12 big Mickey’s (about 3 inches) and 36 small ones (about 1 inch). The smaller size is great for kids, or if you are doing multiple flavours and want to sample several.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so they don’t stick during the proofing stage. My oven has a proof setting so I use that. If your oven doesn’t have that, preheat your oven and then turn it off once it’s a little warm. You do not want heat, just a warm environment for the dough to rise. Even having an oven light on can do the trick. Let them proof for about an hour. If you are making these a day ahead put them in the fridge at this stage. I let mine proof and then put them in the fridge, but if you are making them a day ahead I would put them in the fridge after rolling them out and cutting them out. Just make sure to take them out of the fridge to proof for an hour or two before frying them. I’ve also put them in the freezer to be used at a later time. Again, just make sure you give them time to totally defrost and rise.
While they are proofing make the marshmallow cream and chocolate sauce. For the cream, whisk the whipping cream, vanilla, pinch of salt and icing sugar together in the Kitchen Aid or a handheld mixer. When the cream starts to get thick add the marshmallow fluff. I found this at the grocery store near the ice cream sundae toppings. If you are vegan, I would make the marshmallow fluff out of aquafaba, cream of tartar, vanilla and powdered sugar. Transfer to a large ziplock bag with a star tip. I used the Wilton 2D tip. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
For the chocolate sauce, heat the cream in a microwave bowl or a small saucepan on the stove. Careful not to boil it! With such a small amount it’s easy to do. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let them stand. The cream will melt the chocolate and when you stir it should be nice and smooth. If the sauce is too thick add more cream and heat in the microwave on low power for only 20 second increments.
Now comes the part that intimidates people. Frying can seem daunting if you’ve never done it. It’s really not as hard as you might think. I use a pot with as much width as I have (more frying surface area) OR a deep frying pan. The pot helps contain any splatter that you might experience during the frying process. If we are making beignets for a crowd we will have two pots going at the same time. It’s really important that the oil is at the right temperature for frying. If it’s too hot the outside will cook without the middle getting cooked through (and also this is where oil can become dangerous). If the oil isn’t hot enough the dough will absorb too much oil and be greasy. The perfect temperature is 350-365 F. If you are like me and do not want to fuss with thermometers, we use an old kitchen trick that we picked up from Rachael Ray. Insert the handle of a wooden spoon. Lots of micro bubbles should form around the wood when it is at the perfect temperature. Works every time. Throughout the cooking process, the oil keeps getting hotter and hotter so I find I need to reduce the heat as I go.
Gently lower the beignets into the oil, working in batches of 3-5; you don’t want to crowd the pan. Immediately they start to puff up and get golden brown. It takes about 12-18 seconds per side, and you’re looking for a golden brown colour. Flip to the other side and then remove with a slotted spoon once both sides are golden brown. You want them slightly lighter than the colour of a graham cracker. Transfer to a cooling rack over a baking sheet and dust immediately with hot chocolate mix using a sieve (a mesh strainer). You could just do it over parchment to catch the excess powder. I used the hot chocolate mix we bought from Costco, I think anything would work. Beignets are best served right away! Use the marshmallow cream and chocolate sauce for dipping. A dusting of holiday sprinkles adds just the right touch of Christmas.
They are so good and totally worth making, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
To download the recipe, click here.
Have a magical day!