Introducing a new feature to our scrapbook, The Coffee Window, a collection of recipes from our culinary point of view. Check back often for new recipes.

Recipe: Beignet
Makes: approximately 25
Drink with: La Colombe Louisiane Blend

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Like most of our ideas, these beignet started with a coffee bean: in this case, the Haitian Blue Forest bean, an heirloom typica variety grown semi-wild in the South Eastern range surrounding Gros Cheval (an area called “Foret Bleu”). When we learned this historical bean was used in the south during the 18th century, we knew we needed to find it as the essential component in our new southern blend called Louisiane.

Before making the blend, we traveled down to Charleston to eat the cuisine of two great southern chefs, Sean Brock (HUSK) and Mike Lata (FIG), to get a sense of the regional food flavors we needed to complement in making the blend, which we think came out pretty well. It’s a slightly smoky coffee with a delicate mineral undercurrent much like the new agrarian cooking we had in Charleston—polished yet rustic.

In September, we will make another trip into the south to taste the food of another great Southern Chef Donald Link in New Orleans—and that’s what got us thinking of beignet. They’re a huge tourist attraction in New Orleans—with the best-known place being Café Du Monde—and they’ve actually been named “The State Doughnut of Louisiana.” Because New Orleans has such a diverse indigenous urban cuisine and so many cultures have a fried dough, it’s hard to track their origin to a specific country: it could be Spain, France, or even Italy—all were early settlers. But these fritters are substantial—almost “meaty.” The risen doughy interior and crispy crust with that touch of sweetness is a great match to Louisiane.

¾ cup warm water
¼ oz dry yeast ( ½ envelope)
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup evaporated milk
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
3½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick), diced small and let warm to room temperature

4 cups peanut or canola oil for frying
maple syrup for drizzling
powdered sugar for dusting

Plan on making the dough the night before cooking to reduce the amount of work the next morning and give the dough a good chance to rest.

The Night Before
Place the water in a medium sized bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the surface, letting it stand for a few minutes until the yeast activates and begins to get frothy.

In a separate bowl that is large enough to contain all of the ingredients, whisk together the sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk, and nutmeg. Also add the activated yeast to this mixture.

Fold half of the flour into the wet ingredients with the butter, mixing until fully incorporated.  Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured surface and knead just until everything comes together.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

To Finish
Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured surface, rolling out to ¼ inch.
Cut the dough into 2 ½ inch squares and separate slightly so as they continue to rise they don’t grow back together.  Cover lightly with plastic film as they rest.

In a wide, steep-sided pot, heat peanut oil to approximately 325 degrees, or until a small piece of dough dropped into the begins to sizzle immediately and doesn’t sink all the way to the bottom before rising up again.

Working in small batches, add a beignet at a time to the oil, being careful not to overload the pot. Fry on each side to light golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, using a slotted spoon or small spider to turn and remove the beignet to a paper towel lined tray to drain excess oil.

Drizzle with maple syrup and dust with powdered sugar and serve while hot.

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