Bleu de Bresse Beignets
Post 390, Boston, MA
The composed cheese course—for which cheese is manipulated in some way and usually served with a salad at the end of a meal—has started to replace the more traditional hunk-o'-cheese with grapes and bread on some restaurant and banquet menus. At the Beard House, Eric Brennan served these tangy beignets—pâte à choux filled with imported blue cheese—with brûléed pear and black walnut salad. The dough is a variation on the classic recipe for cream puff paste that can be used for other dishes, savory and sweet, as well.
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 ounces Bleu de Bresse cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
In a small saucepan, combine the water and butter and set over high heat. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 1 minute. Meanwhile, combine the flour with the salt and baking powder. When the water and butter mixture has finished simmering, remove from the heat. Dump the flour mixture in all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball. Return the pan to the flame and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until the dough tightens up a little. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. When the dough is cool enough to touch, but still warm, add one of the eggs and beat with the wooden spoon. The dough will separate into small, slimy blobs and then begin to come back together as you continue beating. Continue adding the eggs, one at a time, and beating the dough until it coalesces and all 4 eggs are incorporated. Chill the dough for 4 hours or overnight.
When the dough is chilled, take a heaping tablespoonful (about 1 ounce) of dough and form it into a ball. Flatten the ball to a disk about 1/4-inch thick. Place a cube of the cheese in the center of the disk and fold the dough to totally encase the cheese. Reshape into a ball and set on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese until you have used up the cheese. Reserve any leftover dough. If the dough becomes too sticky to handle, wet your hands with cold water and continue working, or return it to the refrigerator to chill again. Place the beignets on the cookie sheet in the freezer and freeze overnight until solid. You can transfer the frozen beignets to a resealable plastic bag and keep them frozen for up to a month.
To fry, heat the oil in a deep, heavy frying pan or saucepan to 350ºF. Drop 10 frozen beignets at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown and slightly puffed, about 8 to 10 minutes. If you have leftover dough and you see any evidence of a break in a beignet before frying, you can reseal it. You can also fry the leftover dough plain. Because some of the beignets may break into the oil, you probably will not want to reuse the oil for other frying. Drain the beignets on paper towels and serve immediately.
28 to 32 beignets