Beignets with Vanilla Sauce
Most Americans know beignets as the New Orleans version of a doughnut. Made from the same cream puff dough as éclairs, they are fried instead of baked. These are crisp and delicious, served with vanilla cream sauce. The cream puff dough can be made up to 6 hours in advance and kept at room temperature; the puffs must be fried just before serving.
- Water - 1 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 3 tablespoons
- Sugar - 1 cup
- All-Purpose Flour - 1 cup, sifted
- Eggs - 4 large
- Ground cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
- Vegetable Oil - 4 cups, for frying
- Warm Crème Anglaise - 2 cups, (recipe below)
- Crème Anglaise (Makes 2 cups)
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Sugar - 1/3
- Milk - 1-1/2 cups, heated
- Vanilla bean - 1, split in half lengthwise, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Butter - 1 tablespoon, at room temperature (optional)
Combine the water, butter, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar in a deep, heavy saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the butter, then remove from heat. Immediately, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously to blend. Return the mixture to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, forms a ball, and leaves a film on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in 1 egg at a time with a wooden spoon. The finished paste should be very smooth. Cover and set aside.
Mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon and place it in a deep plate or shallow soup bowl. In a deep, heavy pot or deep fryer, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375 F, or almost smoking. When the oil is hot, scoop up 1 heaping teaspoonful of the dough, push it off the spoon into a rounded lump with your fingers, and drop into the oil. Increasing the heat slightly, fry 10 to 12 beignets at a time, moving them around in the oil so they brown equally on all sides. Remove the cooked beignets with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain briefly, then keep them warm in an oven on very low heat.
Repeat with the remaining dough. Roll the finished warm beignets in the cinnamon sugar.
To serve: Cluster3 or 5 beignets on each serving plate and spoon crème anglaise around the beignets.
In a medium, heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks over low heat until they are pale in color. Whisk in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, then whisk until the mixture reaches the consistency of cake batter.
Whisk in the milk and vanilla bean, if using, then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the spoon and a line drawn down the back of the spoon remains visible. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using, or remove vanilla bean pods.
If the custard is to be chilled, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, or dot the top with bits of optional butter. Chill the custard for up to 2 days.
Note: If the custard begins to overheat and the egg yolks are forming lumps, remove it immediately from the heat and whisk briskly to cool the mixture. Push the custard through a fine-meshed sieve with the back of a spoon to remove the lumps. If it has not sufficiently thickened, return it to heat to complete cooking.