We made it to Amateur Gourmet Survivor: Round II!
The fierce competition already managed to raise so far $2750 thanks to many of your generous donations.
This time, for Round II, it’s all about beignets, those favorite deep-fried pastries from New Orleans. Melissa, my dedicated Survivor contestant, made two separate batches: due to a successful whining campaign by yours truly, in addition to caramelized-apple beignets, she whipped up a batch of chocolate-filled beignets just for me!
Melissa’s baking adventures are featured on her Flickr page, which can be viewed as a hilarious slideshow. She fired up the deep-fryer, rolled out some might-fine looking dough, and re-assembled her panel of super-beignet-tasters.
Voting ends Tuesday night at 10pm (EST) so vote for Melissa to keep her in the game (and so I can stop getting intimidating messages from Derrick and the other Melissa!)
Please vote here.
Each vote is just $5 and all proceeds go to the American Red Cross Hurricane Relief Fund which, and you can vote more than once (ie: $20=4 votes for Melissa).
(Don’t you wish you could have voted more than once in a certain presidential election?)
When you vote, you MUST put in the comments field Melissa’s name to keep her (and me) in the game.
(Plus I’d hate to lose, which I’d blog about incessantly for months, and if you don’t want to have to wade through months of sour-grapes postings, do you?)
And now….here’s Melissa’s entry for Amateur Gourmet Survivor: Round II…
Beign-yay! I love fried dough in all of its forms – funnel cakes, elephant ears, donuts… (Mmmmm….donuts…)
I found two recipes: a generic fried-dough-type recipe, and one that claimed to be the beignet recipe from Cafe du Monde.
(The one that didn’t involve, “Buy a box of Cafe du Monde(TM) Beignet Mix and add water!”)
I gathered up all of the ingredients for two batches of dough: flour, vegetable shortening, active dry yeast, eggs, sugar, and a bit of salt. The generic recipe called for heavy cream, while the alleged Cafe du Monde recipe called for evaporated milk.
The first thing I did in both cases was to activate the yeast by sprinkling it into warm water and then leaving it alone. After settling for ten minutes, the mixture doubled in size.
I added the other ingredients as called for. I’d been hoping for a chance to break out the dough hook on my KitchenAid, but both recipes were very explicit: stir with a wooden spoon, only!
Once the mixture became too thick to stir, I finished mixing it with my hand. At this point, the generic dough was ready to be rolled out, while the CdM recipe called for the dough to set in the fridge overnight in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap.
In each case, when it came time to start rolling, I first lightly floured the rolling surface. Next, I laid the dough on it and gently pressed and stretched it until it resembled a rectangle. I rolled it to a thickness of approximately 1/8 inch, flipping the dough and flouring the board in between passes. Next, I cut it into 2×3 inch rectangles, which I gently dropped two at a time into the hot oil.
My first two beignets came out flat as coasters!
I worried that I’d messed up something in the yeast…
However, the second two popped right up to the surface of the oil and turned a lovely golden brown! I was so excited, I couldn’t help but taste one as soon as it was cool enough to touch.
It was delicious!
So were the next three…
But then, I remembered that I should leave some for the competition, and restrained myself. I ended up with about a dozen and a half beignets, which I sprinkled with powdered sugar using my grandmother’s spring-loaded flour sifter while singing Jingle Bells, and then fed them to my neighbors – who made short work of them.
The next evening, I retrieved the CdM dough from the fridge, noting that it had more than doubled in size. I floured the board, and set to work rolling and cutting. This time, however, I decided to get a little creative. In addition to the traditional “plain” beignets, I decided to add some international flair. After all, the recipe (allegedly) came from Cafe du Monde.
Alors, mesdames et messieurs, je vous presente: les Beignets du Monde!
I diced an apple and mixed it with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a saucepan, and stewed it for awhile. Not only did it make a tasty dipping sauce, but it also served as a fabulous filling!
As American as Apple Pie! (Or something like that…)
Next, inspired by the great chocolate powerhouses of Europe (as well as by a suggestion made by a certain Parisian), I put together a couple of chocolate-and-Nutella-filled beignets and drizzled them with melted dark chocolate.
I even filled some with some strawberry preserves.
Ich bin ein Berliner!
Inspired by the fine Indian cuisine prepared by my British friends, I made a beignet filled with – and drizzled with – spicy hot mango chutney, and washed it down with a cup of Darjeeling.
In the end, the recipe yielded about two dozen biegnets.
They were much lighter and puffier than the ones made with the generic recipe, and I’m wondering if it was the evaporated milk, the overnight stay in the fridge, or a combination of the two.
Once again, my guinea pigs-er, I mean tasters made short work of it all!
(Ok folks, vote here for Melissa and her fabulous culinary efforts!)