Is there anything better than biting into a warm, soft beignet covered in powdered sugar? The answer is no, there isn’t. Beignets can be found in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square at the Mint Julep Bar quick service window. 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. These pillowy donuts are the perfect treat inside or outside the parks. Don’t be intimidated, they aren’t as hard as they look!
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3 tbsp melted butter
- 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour
- 1 cup icing sugar
- Vegetable oil for frying
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 bloom the yeast right in the bowl of my KitchenAid. 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. 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 KitchenAid, 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 mixing 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, will link below) cut out the shapes. You don’t want to re-roll the dough too much, because it becomes 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 after rolling 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.
Now comes the part that intimidates people. Frying can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. 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, you can use an old kitchen trick that we picked up from Rachael Ray. Insert the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if lots of micro bubbles form around the wood then 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. From the oil, transfer the hot beignets into a shallow dish with confectioners sugar and carefully give them a toss. They are VERY hot so I would use a fork or tongs to turn and coat the beignets. You could also put them into a brown paper bag and give them a toss that way.
They are so good and totally worth making, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Beignet Flavour Variations:
It’s so easy to recreate seasonal flavours and to create new ones at home! For the fruit flavours such as cherry, you use Kool-Aid crystals or Jello powder added to the confectioners sugar at the end. It’s surprising how much it can change the flavour profile! We have also used instant pudding mixed with the confectioners sugar for butterscotch and pistachio. This is when we like to use the small Mickey cookie cutter so we can try different flavours of beignets! There is no limit to the creativity when it comes to combinations. Here are a few of the ones we’ve tried:
- hot chocolate (recipe is here)
- candy cane (crush candy canes into a powder)
- chocolate strawberry (hot chocolate powder and strawberry Kool-Aid)
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Have a magical day!