Get ready to make some MAN-CATCHIN’ BEIGNETS!
It’s time to head on down south for some good ol’ Southern cookin’. But not just any soul food will do.
I recently rewatched The Princess and the Frog – and finished it absolutely starving (much like the name of my blog implies!). I had completely forgotten how many delicious treats and dishes are not only talked about but also often cooked on-screen, leaving the watcher (me) salivating at the very sight of these animated treats.
One of the most talked about treats in the movie are Tiana’s beignets.
What are Beignets?
Beignets are a French-style, donut-like dessert that have been adopted by the people of New Orleans as a customary dessert. Beignets are different from donuts in that they are often lightly crispy, can be air-puffed on the inside and are traditionally topped with so much powdered sugar that you walk away practically covered in it yourself after one bite.
No doubt the movie took inspiration from the real life home of New Orleans style beignets: Cafe du Monde – though I have a feeling that Tiana’s beignets taste much better.
“Beignets? Got me a fresh batch waiting for you.”
I wanted to taste test Tiana’s REAL beignets – and turns out, you don’t have to go to New Orleans to get the real deal.
If you head to Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter resort, you too can find beignets to snack on! Plus gumbo and many other delicious Southern-inspired dishes can be picked up at any of the many restaurants and dining halls found at Port Orleans.
And yes, that is me after I flew all the way to Disney’s Port Orleans just to try some authentic beignets. Mine came with alcohol inserts that could be piped directly into your mouth as soon as you bit in.
The beignets also come shaped as Mickey ears – as they should be when served at Disney World!
Copycat Beignets from New Orleans
This recipe is based on recipes for traditional New Orleans-style beignets.
- bread flour – has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, giving more structure to the rise and helping the beignets hold their shape; all-purposed can be subbed in a pinch
- yeast – helps give rise to the dough
- sugar – feeds the yeast and adds sweetness
- evaporated milk – adds more levels of nuance and savory notes to the beignets than traditional or “fresh” milk (though regular milk can be used as a substitute)
- nutmeg – the secret ingredient to Tiana’s beignets
- honey – add a sweet glaze to the tops of the beignets to hold on extra powdered sugar
- butter & eggs – make a perfect base for building the batter
- peanut oil – traditionally used to fry beignets; vegetable oil can be subbed in
- powdered sugar – the best beignets are coated in a THICK coating of powdered sugar; the more mess the better!
If you feel like skipping making the beignets from scratch, you can totally buy premade beignet mix (affiliate link) and get the same results. But you didn’t hear that from me.
Rise & Fry
Once the dough has doubled in size and has been rolled out into an even thickness, you basically have two options:
- For Crispier Beignets – preheat the oil to 360°F before punching down and rolling out the dough; then fry the beignets immediately after cutting into 2×2.5 inch rectangles. This will give the beignets a light, airy center.
- For Denser Beignets – punch down and roll out the dough before preheating the oil. Allow the rolled out dough to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes (or while the oil preheats to 360°F). This will give the beignets a more donut-like consistency.
Honey Beignets from The Princess and the Frog
- 3 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 ¼ cup evaporated milk warmed to 110°F
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 4-6 cups peanut oil or vegetable oil, enough to fill the pot 4 inches deep
- 4-8 tablespoons honey to taste, for drizzling
- 2-4 cups powdered sugar for topping, to taste
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warmed evaporated milk with the yeast and sugar. Stir gently to mix then let the yeast activate for about 5-10 minutes or until the top of the liquid is foamy.
- Connect the paddle attachment to the mixer. Add about half of the flour to the bowl. Turn on mixer to low speed and stir for 1-2 minutes.
- With the mixer still on low speed, add in the eggs, butter, salt, vanilla and nutmeg. Mix until a smooth batter comes together.
- Turn off the mixer and remove the paddle attachment. Connect the dough hook to the mixer. Add the remaining flour to the bowl and use the dough hook to stir until the flour is well combined and a thick dough has formed.
- Continue to stir on low speed for 5-10 minutes or until the dough begins pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl every few minutes to make sure everything is mixing evenly.
- Grease a separate, large bowl with a light coating of oil spray or oil wiped on with a paper towel. Transfer the dough to the prepped bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place a towel on top and allow to rise for two hours or overnight. The dough should double in size.
- Once doubled in size, begin preheating 3-4 inches of oil in a large pot to 360°F – be sure to use a large enough pot so the pot is less than half way filled with oil as the oil will bubble up as it heats and fries. DO NOT OVERFILL THE POT WITH OIL.
- Punch down the dough. Dust a large baking sheet with flour and tip out the dough onto the baking sheet. Dust the top of the dough with another tablespoon or two of flour then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into an even thickness – about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Prep a second baking sheet or large plate with two layers or paper towels. Use a pizza wheel to cut the rolled out dough into 2 inch by 2.5 inch rectangles (standard, traditional size). Some of the edges may be short – use these pieces to test the oil to make sure it is hot enough.
- Working in batches of 3-4 beignets at a time, fry the dough for 2-4 minutes per side, flipping half way on each side to ensure an even, golden color. Transfer the cooked beignets to the prepped baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- While the beignets are still piping hot, drizzle about 1-2 teaspoons of honey on top of each beignet. Fill a sifter with powdered sugar and sift a generous amount of powdered sugar onto the beignets – enough to make them look buried in the snow. The more powdered sugar, the better!
- Serve the beignets immediately! The beignets are best VERY FRESH and will only hold their freshness for about 12 hours so be sure to enjoy right away. Laissez les bon temps rouler!