Orange Blossom Beignets
Bocadillos and Piperade, San Francisco; Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition (Ten Speed Press, 2009)
Gerald Hirigoyen served these beignets with turrón mousse cake and candied almonds at his Beard House dinner. The choux-style dough is flavored with orange blossom water, lending a subtle floral note.
1 1/2 to 2 dozen beignets
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup flour, sifted
- 5 large eggs
- 2 quarts vegetable oil
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Special equipment: Candy thermometer
Combine the butter, water, orange blossom water, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Immediately add the flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well incorporated. Return the pan to medium heat, stirring continuously until smooth and a skin begins to form on the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. While mixing on low speed, add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. The dough should have a very soft, elastic consistency.
In a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the oil to 350ºF. Working in small batches, quickly drop a tablespoon of dough into the oil. The oil should bubble gently around the beignets. As they cook, the beignets puff and brown. Keep them moving and turning in the oil so they cook evenly throughout. Beignets are done when they are about four times their original size and medium brown, about 6 minutes. Remove the beignets with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Place the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Once the beignets have cooled slightly, add them to the mixing bowl, a few at a time, and toss them together with the sugar until thoroughly coated. Place beignets on a large serving tray and dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar.