Yield: 8 beignets
Beignets, fresh and hot, right out of the frying oil, are scrumptious. They were originally brought to New Orleans by French colonists in the 18th century and quickly became a favorite in Creole cuisine, with variations often including banana or plantain, fruits readily available in this port city.
Accompanied by a rich, dark cup of French coffee, coffee with chicory or café au lait, you are transported to an open air café in old New Orleans.
- 2 large, ripe bananas (sliced into quarters; basically sliced in half lengthwise, then in half again crosswise)
- 2-3 cups olive oil, as needed for frying (NOTE: Olive oil is our preferred oil for frying, however, your favorite oil will work nicely too.)
- Confectioner’s sugar (or seasoned sugar, such as Merchant Spice Co.’s Cinnamon Seasoned Sugar), as desired
Dry Batter Ingredients
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons organic dried milk powder (buttermilk powder can be used, too)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
Wet Batter Ingredients
- 1/2 cup water (NOTE: We always use artesian spring water since water treated with chemicals will adversely affect the flavor of your finished product. Also, you may substitute 1/2 cup milk for the water, in which case it is not necessary to use the dried milk powder in the dry ingredients, although it adds an extra creaminess to the batter.)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Mix together the dry batter ingredients in a large mixing bowl. To this, stir in your wet batter ingredients, that is, the water (or milk) and lightly beaten egg. Combine with a whisk or wooden spoon until the consistency is that of a thick batter. Add additional water or milk if the mixture is too thick; alternatively, add a little flour, no more than one tablespoon at a time, if the mixture is too thin.
In your frying pan (we like to use a large wok), heat the oil over a medium heat, to a temperature of approximately 360° to 375° Farenheit. Dip your sliced bananas one at a time into the batter and gently drop directly into the oil, taking care not to crowd the pan. We find that three at a time works nicely.
Turn the beignets over to evenly fry on each side. You are looking for the optimum golden brown color. As they cook, remove them to a tray. Continue to fry all of your beignets in the same manner.
Now for the fun part! Place the banana beignets on a serving platter and sprinkle generously with sugar. Serve immediately while fresh and steaming hot. A cup of dark-roasted French coffee, coffee with chicory or café au lait pairs beautifully with the beignets.
In Corsica, beignets made with chestnut flour (Beignets de farine de châtaigne) are known as fritelli.
Replace two tablespoons of the all-purpose flour with finely ground almonds or hazelnuts. Even chopped peanuts would be delightful.
Before dredging the bananas in the batter, coat them with seasoned sugar. Merchant Spice Co. offers a wonderful variety of sugars that would serve nicely. Try Cinnamon Seasoned Sugar … or Cocoa … or Espresso … or Maple … or Coconut … the list goes on and on. Our Aztec Dessert Blend would be incredibly unique, punctuated with a bit of red chile.
You could mix blueberries or fruit preserves into the batter ~ just swirl it in before coating the bananas. Or, you could fill your beignets with baked apple or extra ripe pears in place of the banana.
A sweet, cheesy version of beignet, Beignets au Fromage, could be made by cutting cream cheese into 1/2-inch thick slices, then rolling in Vanilla Seasoned Sugar, and finally dredging in batter. Of course, a savory cheese version would be excellent!
So many possibilities …