While beads might be flying through the air and the jazz music has everyone dancing in the streets, a Mardi Gras favorite food adds its flavor to the event. This sweet beignet recipe is a Universal Orlando favorite, and it is easy enough for everyone to master.
Whether paired with a cafe au lait, a simple cup of chicory, or enjoyed with an espresso martini, beignets are always part of Mardi Gras celebrations. Cafe Du Monde might serve their iconic, pillowy powdered treats all year long; Universal Orlando is filling bags with hot, fresh beignets to the delight of all the guests during its special event. Accept getting a little powdered sugar on the shirt and enjoy that satisfying flavor.
Always a Mardi Gras favorite, beignets are similar to a fritter. A traditional choux pastry is fried, then tossed in powdered sugar. The combination of the warm pastry with airy, pillowy center smothered in sugar can be a breakfast favorite or a satisfying dessert.
While the beignets are the official state doughnut of Louisiana, the treat is not limited to just that region. Even though the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration might end on Fat Tuesday, Universal Orlando keeps the good times rolling for several more weeks.
As part of this year’s Carnival of Flavors, the Universal Orlando chefs shared not only their sweet beignet recipe but also some tips to make that dessert taste even more delicious. Even for the pastry novice, there are ways to master beignets.
According to the Universal Orlando culinary team, it is all about the dough. One key that is required for this recipe is warm water. To activate the yeast, it needs that warm temperature. It might not necessarily be a Goldilocks scenario where the temperature must be just right, but it does need to be warm.
In addition, the process cannot be rushed. While chefs might have some movie magic swaps to quicken the process, making pastry takes time and precision. Careful measuring, a keen eye, and attention to those details are necessary for any successful bake.
Since the dough makes one big rectangle, the home baker can take some liberties with that beignet shape. While Universal Orlando chefs have a gadget that makes quick work of cutting all that dough, the home baker can use a knife, bench scraper, or even a cookie cutter. It might not be typical to have heart shaped beignets, but the gesture could make some people’s heart go aflutter.
Lastly, the best part of enjoying beignets is all the powdered sugar. Even if it is a little messy, the sweetness cannot be resisted. While plain powdered sugar is traditional, adding a little cinnamon to the bag can be quite tasty.
Here’s Universal Orlando’s classic beignet recipe.
¾ cup warm water
½ cup sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
½ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 ¾ cup AP flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
Canola oil for frying
½ cup donut sugar
In bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water, yeast, and ½ sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes to bloom
Mix the flour and salt. Set aside
Add milk, vanilla, remaining sugar and egg to the yeast mixture and whisk together
Add the flour and salt mixture to the wet ingredients. Using a dough hook, mix until the dough comes together
Add the butter and continue mixing on medium-speed for 4 minutes (if dough seems a little sticky, add a bit of flour to the mixer, one tablespoon at a time).
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and let rise for two hours
Roll the dough into ½ thick rectangle on a floured surface and cut into 2 ½” squares
Fry at 350F for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn halfway through frying
Drain excess oil and shake in a paper bag with donut sugar
For anyone who would rather let the Universal Orland chefs do all the heavy lifting, the classic beignets are a signature food during the annual Universal Orlando Mardi Gras Carnival of Flavors. The event runs now through April 7, 2024.