Mardi Gras Beignets

Well, well, well. I meant to have these up by Tuesday (in honor of Mardi Gras, obviously) but alas. Per usual, time got away from me. It was worth the try, and at least they’re going up the same week…right?

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Damn, y’all. I have missed blogging. I’ve basically been inactive since August…that feels insane. I had a lot going on all at once!

My new job requires me to constantly be doing all the same things I usually do for this blog – content creation, cooking/baking, photography, writing. It’s amazing and I am so freakin’ happy. But doing all those tasks for work sometimes leaves me with an empty tank by the time I get around to blogging. No worries – I think it’s all about adjusting how I was spending my free time & energy. I feel like I’m finally getting into a good groove again!

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Anyway. Things have been so fun lately! In February alone I went to Boston, Alabama, and Tennessee. The trip to Boston was to visit some of my closest friends from college (it was a blast & I already miss them all so much), but Alabama and Tennessee were for my first ever work trip! My boss & I had an absolute blast photographing the menu of a restaurant that’s New Orleans/Mardi Gras themed. Since we were there the weekend before Fat Tuesday, and it’s the 1-year anniversary of when my sister and I visited NOLA, I was feeling all the Mardi Gras vibes.

So naturally I made some beignets. You should too. Here’s how…

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Mardi Gras Beignets

ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for kneading

1/4 cup shortening

vegetable oil for frying

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

directions:

Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, check and make sure the mixture has become foamy. If it has, you’re in the clear to proceed. If it hasn’t, the yeast is dead and you need to start over with new yeast.

In a stand mixer, combine the eggs, milk, and salt. Beat until well combined.

With the mixer on low, add the yeast to the egg mixture. Then add half of the flour and slowly mix to combine.

Next add the shortening and the remaining flour to the batter.

Once the dough is well mixed, remove it from the bowl and place it onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, then place it back into the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

Set the bowl aside in a warm area and let it rise for 1-2 hours (ideally 2, but 1 works if you’re really desperate).

After 2 hours, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface till it’s a quarter inch thick. Then slice the dough into 2-inch squares with a knife or pizza cutter.

Place enough vegetable oil into a Dutch oven so that it fills an inch of the way up. Place a candy thermometer into the Dutch oven and heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, place a dough square into the hot oil. Start with just one as your “tester”! It’ll cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.

Once the beignet has finished frying on both sides remove it from the oil, allow any excess oil to drip off, then place it onto a clean plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar – doing so after each beignet is fried ensures that there are no bare spots in your beignet stack! Then repeat the process with the remaining dough squares.

Serve with some hot chicory coffee, and enjoy while you listen to New Orleans jazz.

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Gotta say you guys, I bit into one of these and was immediately transported to a year ago when I had my first beignet at Café Du Monde. I mean I even had the coffee to pair it with (thanks, sister!) Wow. What a dream. It makes me think, maybe it’s about damn time I share our New Orleans itinerary, huh?

Sweet Potato & Marshmallow Doughnuts

You. GUYS.

Last Thanksgiving (maybe even 2 Thanksgivings ago?!) I had the idea to take the uber-sweet Thanksgiving side dish of sweet potato casserole and re-work it into doughnut form. Why, you ask? I think it was all those artisanal doughnuts I was enjoying in L.A. Plus, sweet potato casserole honestly already tastes like a dessert, so why not just go all in, right? Right. I was so. freakin’. right!

The truth is, sweet potato casserole is almost too sweet for me to eat on the big day. I almost feel like I’m wasting valuable gastric space that would be much better occupied by pumpkin pie or a third serving of stuffing. But I won’t lie, that casserole is tasty. So I really liked the idea of working it in somehow. Can’t you imagine having one of these with a cup of coffee while you watched the parade, before the true madness kicked in?!

I put off making them for so long because a) frying doughnuts kind of intimidated me, b) there aren’t a lot of sweet potato doughnut recipes out there so I needed to do some research and c) I lacked a kitchen torch and a dutch oven and I knew I wanted to have both in my arsenal before I made any sort of attempt, so I could really do the thing right.

Good news! Everything worked out just fine.

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Sweet Potato Doughnuts with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

ingredients:

for the doughnuts:

1 tbsp instant yeast

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1/3rd cup brown sugar

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp salt

3/4th tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup milk, lukewarm

1 cup sweet potato puree

6 tbs. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

5 & 1/2 cups flour

canola oil (one whole big bottle)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

for the toasted marshmallow frosting (adapted from acozykitchen):

2 tablespoons water

2/3rd cup white sugar

2 egg whites

1/8th tsp cream of tartar

1/8th tsp salt

1/4th teaspoon vanilla extract

directions:

for the doughnuts:

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all the ingredients except the flour. Change out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, then slowly add in the flour. Knead until all ingredients are well combined, for about 10 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl covered with a warm, damp (but not dripping) towel. Let it rise for about an hour.

Remove the dough, place on a floured surface, and roll out until dough is about half an inch thick. Take a circular cookie cutter and cut the doughnuts out, then place them on a plate to rise again for about 30 minutes. Any excess dough can be rolled into tiny doughnut holes!

While the dough cutouts are rising for the last time, heat the canola oil in a dutch oven until it reaches the temperature of 350 F (you’ll need a thermometer to get this right!)

Carefully place a sacrificial “tester” doughnut into the oil. Cook on each side about 2-3 minutes, until nice and golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the doughnut from the oil and place on a plate covered with paper towels to cool. Tear in half to check the inside and make sure it’s cooked through! If the inside is still doughy, you know you’ll have to fry the doughnut a little longer. The inside should be nice and airy!

Mix the white sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small, wide bowl. After the doughnuts are de-oiled (lol) and cooled enough to handle, roll each side of the doughnuts in the spiced sugar. Set them aside while you make the frosting.

for the frosting:

Combine the sugar, water, and egg whites in a new mixing bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan with boiling water in it, making sure the bottom of the mixing bowl does not touch the water. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients and, using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk everything together on medium-high until soft peaks form and the bowl is cooled.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, and then pipe the frosting on top of the dough in fun, swirly designs! The swirlier the frosting is, the better the final toasted product will look!

Use a kitchen torch to toast the frosting, and then you’re finished!

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PLEASE DON’T GET CONFUSED. I don’t want you to make these in lieu of pie. That would be unforgivable. Honestly, if I went to a Thanksgiving dinner that didn’t serve pie I would leave. I don’t mess around, people. Once I went to one where leftovers weren’t offered to guests and I’m still not fully over it. But how fun is it to spin classics in a new way?!

I can’t believe the holiday is this week! I’m going to share a few more recipes here (loved your Insta-poll suggestions!) and then it’s off to California to visit Mark and his family! I can’t wait for a little vacation and to be back on the west coast for a little bit (even with the low air quality from the fires).

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Happy Election Day! Are you voting, or heading out to vote? The lines are long out there, so it’s probably in your best interest to bring a snack. These apple cider donuts are a perfect candidate (lol at election humor) to nibble on while you wait to exercise your civic duty!

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Need I say more about these? Who doesn’t love an apple cider donut?! These are really so easy to make and as long as you use good apple cider (I didn’t the first time I made these and you can definitely tell what you’re missing), they taste just like the real deal.

Also, now that we’re moving onto Thanksgiving mode over here, I’ve got apple pies on the brain. These are a nice and much easier alternative, I’m even thinking of making & taking them when I fly all the way to San Francisco this Thanksgiving. I know, I know. That might be extra but it’s rude to show up empty handed, ya know? Thoughts?

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Okay, here’s what you gotta do:

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

ingredients:

1 cup good quality apple cider

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Pinch of salt

11 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1/3 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease donut tray w/ butter.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the apple cider until it reduces to about half of the original volume, you’ll need 1/2 cup for the recipe itself. This way the apple cider flavor is highly concentrated! Once desired volume is reached, remove the cider from heat and set aside/allow to cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

In a separate microwavable bowl, melt 4 tbsp of butter.  Add the reduced apple cider, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, milk, and vanilla . Mix together until well combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined!

Fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe into the donut pan so that each slot is 3/4ths of the way full. Do not fill to the top, unless your donuts to totally lose shape!

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the donuts are golden browned. Transfer donuts to a cooling rack.

While the donuts are cooling, melt the remaining 7 tbsp of butter in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Dip each donut (both sides) into the melted butter, press the donut lightly against the side of the butter bowl to remove excess drips, and then dip each side into the sugar mixture to coat completely.

Boom!

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