If you have been around the blog with us for awhile then there’s a good chance you know about our beignet obsession. It’s kind of our thing. We have challenged ourselves to create new and exciting flavours for each season or holiday. Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, what could be more perfect than red velvet beignets? Yes please! It may seem intimidating but you will not regret making these, I promise.
When creating this recipe I looked up several red velvet cake recipes to figure out what makes red velvet well, red velvet. Most of the recipes included buttermilk, baking soda, cocoa powder, red food colouring and vinegar. Upon further investigation, I read that in traditional recipes a chemical reaction between cocoa and acid is what gives red velvet its red colour. This is where the buttermilk, baking soda and vinegar come into play. Most cake recipes still include the food colour but if you prefer to bake without it, give it a go! I have used this beet powder for natural colour in red velvet cupcakes, but I don’t know exactly what would happen in the beignets.
So I set to work on adapting our classic beignet recipe with a red velvet profile. Our recipe is very similar to the one they use in Disneyland’s French Quarter with one very important distinction… butter. Most beignet recipes have shortening in them, which you could absolutely use. I just think butter always tastes better. I swapped the cream for buttermilk and reduced the amount of flour to accommodate the cocoa powder. Couldn’t resist adding a cream cheese dipping sauce! What’s red velvet without cream cheese, right?
Time to make the beignets! I’m going to fry up half the batch right away and then freeze the other half for Valentine’s Day.
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast (dry active)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 3 T melted butter
- 3 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp gel red food colour
Start by combining 1/2 cup warm water with 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast and 1 tsp of sugar in the bowl of your mixer. You want the water warm; not too hot or it will kill the yeast. The yeast feeds off of sugar so adding that little bit will help your yeast “bloom.” It should start to smell a bit bread-like and you should see a white foam forming on top of the water.
We get a lot of questions about yeast. I like to use Red Star Active Dry Yeast, which you can find in most grocery stores. This type of yeast needs to be bloomed. You can use instant or quick yeast as a sub, no problem. In that case, skip the step of adding the yeast to warm water. Instead add your yeast to your dry ingredients. If you buy yeast in individual packs use 1 package per recipe.
In a separate bowl combine 3 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp baking soda and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. I never bother to sift, just give it a good mix with a whisk.
Add 2 tsp of red gel food colouring (it has to be gel or professional grade) with the 1/4 cup cocoa powder and mix into a paste. You may need to add a splash of water to help it come together. I added approximately 2 tsp of warm water until it was a smooth consistency but not watery.
Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and set aside (if using salted butter omit or reduce salt). Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to your buttermilk then add your egg and melted butter.
Using the dough hook attachment of your mixer add your your wet ingredients including the cocoa powder paste. Stir until combined and then slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix on low until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you don’t have a dough hook you can mix the dough by hand. When everything is incorporated, kneed for 5-10 min until a smooth dough forms. Keep the mixer on medium speed until you have a smooth dough.
Lightly grease your mixing bowl with oil or cooking spray. Place your dough inside and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise in a warm (or room temperature) spot. I find it rises nicely on my stove under the hood fan lights. Allow to rise for 1 – 1 1/2 hrs or until doubled in size.
This is where you would divide your dough to freeze half for a later time. Wrap the dough up well and store in your freezer. Whenever you want to bake with it, take it out and allow to come to room temperature before the next step.
If you are making your beignets Mickey shaped (is there any other kind?), gently turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. I roll out the dough to about 1/2″ thick. Thicker than you would roll out cookies; think more like cinnamon rolls. Use your Mickey Mouse cookie cutter to cut out Mickey shapes. With the other half of the dough that I’m freezing I will do hearts for Valentines Day, but Mickey is appropriate for any occasion so do whatever you want. You can also choose to forget shapes altogether and cut the dough into squares like they do in New Orleans. But you know us, we think everything tastes better Mickey shaped. We have two sizes, the cookie size and a smaller size.
Lay your cut out beignets onto a lined cookie tray. I have silicone mats that work great but you could also use parchment paper. Lightly cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow your beignets to rise for another hour. If you want to make these ahead you can put them into the fridge and then take them out and let them rise for an hour and a half before frying.
Time to fry! Use an oil with a high smoke point and a neutral flavour. We use canola, grape seed or vegetable oil. Don’t heat up your oil too fast; bring to temp over a medium heat. I like to use a frying pan or my dutch oven for frying. You want a pot that has even heat distribution to avoid hot spots. If you have a candy thermometer you can attach it to your pot. The oil needs to be at 350-375 F. One other options is to do it the Rachel Ray way and use the handle of a wooden spoon. In this method, you should start to see ripples in the oil when it’s ready and if you put the handle of a wooden spoon in there should be rapid bubbles that form around it.
Gently lower your beignets into the hot oil. Fry on one side until golden brown and then use tongs to gently flip them over. Sometimes an air bubble forms which makes them hard to flip. I just hold them down for a few seconds which generally works. You don’t want to pop the bubble, that will allow the oil in and make your beignet greasy. Once golden brown, remove from the oil and toss directly into powdered sugar. Serve immediately and enjoy.
- 1/2 cup cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup cream or milk
Red velvet just isn’t the same without the cream cheese icing. I decided these beignets wouldn’t be complete without a cream cheese sauce to dip them in, and I was right! They just don’t taste like red velvet without it. Combine room temperature cream cheese, icing sugar, vanilla and cream or milk. I used a blender to make the dip extra smooth. Adjust the liquid to your preference of sauce thickness.
Have a magical day!
Erica, Heidi, Elisia and Danielle