I am a girl who has shamefully become addicted to perusing Dailymail.Uk in the mornings. A girl who dreams up cakes she’d like to make…banana pudding cake (2 of my favorite things, why shouldn’t they be fused together in cake form?) and also a vanilla buttermilk layer cake with lemon curd between the layers, draped with lavender vanilla buttercream and decorated with a fresh sprig of lavender on top. A girl with constant wanderlust, who is currently getting very excited in anticipation of an upcoming trip to NYC, getting to see Sleep No More and a visit to Momofuku + Momofuku Milk Bar. One who is puzzled because she only just recently discovered she loves Neko Case. I am also a girl who both made and ate beignets for the very first time and has already made them two more times all in the short span of 2 weeks.
My friends Brian and Monica invited myself and my dear friend Liz and our friend Randy over to dinner a couple weeks ago. Brian and Liz are very talented bread bakers. Brian has traveled all over the world, lived in France and was a journalist for a long time. He has exciting stories and an affinity for good bourbon. Liz has wildly big wavy hair, a loud infectious laugh and has impeccable taste in eyewear, with an enviable collection that makes me resent my perfect eyesight. Liz is also fond of Hendricks gin, which makes me all the more fond of Liz. We also share a mutual affection for doughnuts. She’s been an excellent foodie partner in crime these past few months, giving me the best pizza dough recipe, teaching me to make challah and rustic hearth bread and now I am recruiting her to drive all over the Triangle with me as part of a mission for her to try all of my favorite restaurants before she moves out west. We’ve decided she’s the savory to my sweet.
So when Brian informed us we were invited to dinner and that he would be making jambalaya, Liz and I naturally decided we needed to make a dessert. We began brainstorming, trying to conjure up a dessert that would pair well with jambalaya and at first all I could think of was a spicy chocolate cream pie. Then it hit me. BEIGNETS!. Duh. Jambalaya and beignets are quintessential New Orleans cuisine. Never having made beignets before, I happily welcomed the challenge but we did face one hurdle: how to keep them fresh and hot and at their finest when we weren’t hosting? We decided we would just have to fry them at Brian and Monica’s. They conveniently own a deep fryer, so it was settled.
Liz and I made the dough together, following this recipe and forgoing using shortening or letting the dough refrigerate over night. It was a breeze to make, but be warned, it makes a LOT and you just might have to eat them all. Jay and I made bourbon ice cream because we thought that would be the perfect compliment to the beignets (which honestly held their own just fine without it, but can you honestly deny bourbon ice cream?)
Brian blew us away with his jambalaya and the special Virginia ham he used for it. Then came out the Woodford Reserve and the dessert. Those little warm yeasty pillows blanketed in powdered sugar were a huge hit and Brian and Monica even went so far as to award us with the highest of compliments, deeming our beignets the best they’ve ever had; ‘better than Cafe Du Monde’s.’ Friends, when someone tells you your beignets are better than Cafe Du Monde’s, your heart does cartwheels and you hold all other beignets to that standard.
Jay and I went out to dinner the other night and ordered “cream-filled beignets” for dessert. Much to my surprise and dismay, the dessert presented to us was not beignets, but rather choux pastry medallions (not even fried, stop there!) I shook my head to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love and welcome creative diversions and deconstructed interpretations but I felt we were enticed under false pretenses and felt the dire need to educate this person who believed these to be beignets. So I made beignets again the next night for friends watching the Superbowl and I felt better.
I am a girl who for better or worse is in love with beignets. And now I want to make them for the whole world because I want the whole world to also be in love with beignets.