Mari Gras is next week! Do you celebrate Mari Gras?
Typically I don’t do much. When I was growing up my mom would always make either red beans and rice or jambalaya on Mari Gras. I figure I will continue the tradition and make some jambalaya this year. I was feeling a little more festive than usual this year and decided to try my hand at beignets.
These aren’t your average fried beignet, but rather they are baked. I didn’t want to go through all the fuss of frying the little pillows of dough, plus by baking them I could have a few and not feel bad afterwards!
When I decided to bake the beignets I went to one of my favorite food bloggers to see how she did it. Jenna has a great website called Eat, Live, Run and her oven baked beignets were just the inspiration that I needed for my own.
Some of the changes that I made to the recipe were, cutting the proportions in half so I wouldn’t have so many of these heavenly treats staring at me, replacing some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat, replacing a tablespoon of butter with Greek yogurt, and adding a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. The beignets turned out wonderful! They had a crispy exterior and a super moist, light middle. I topped the beignets with the traditional powdered sugar, but then I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I decided these beignets needed a little something special to be spread on them. What better than a blackberry vanilla bean jam spiked with Bourbon! The jam was DELICIOUS! I think I could have just sat there with a spoon and ate the whole jar. The vanilla bean and bourbon really brought the jam to life and turned it into something special. I love foods that have depth of flavor and this jam was one of them. After devouring a couple of the baked vanilla bean beignets with the blackberry bourbon vanilla jam (longest title ever!), I decided to look up a little history on beignets, here are some of the things I discovered.
1. Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986. (I didn’t know there were official state doughnuts!)
2. French settlers brought beignets with them when they migrated from Canada to a region called Acadia.
3. Many years later Acadians settled in Louisiana bringing the beignets with them.
4. Beignets are synonymous with the English fritter and were sometimes filled with fruit
5. Café du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination specializing in beignets and chicory coffee.
6. Beignets are served hot because the dough hardens quickly and becomes heavy.
However you choose to celebrate Mari Gras make a little time to bake up a batch of these baked vanilla bean beignets and don’t forget the blackberry bourbon vanilla jam!
For the Beignets
- 2 T. warm water
- 1 1/8 t. active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4-1 cup all purpose flour (start with 3/4 and add more if dough is too sticky)
- 3/4 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. kosher salt
- 2 T. granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 T. unsalted butter, cold
- 1/4 cup + 2 T. low fat buttermilk
- 1 T. plain non fat Greek yogurt
- 2 T. of an egg (whisk the egg and measure out 2 tablespoons)
- 1 t. vanilla bean paste or one vanilla bean
- Powdered sugar for dusting
For the Blackberry Bourbon Vanilla Jam
- 2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen will work)
- 1 t. lemon juice
- 2 T. bourbon
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
To Make the Jam
- In a medium size saucepan combine all of the jam ingredients over medium high heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat down to medium low and mash the berries with a potato masher.
- Simmer the jam for about 30 minutes until it has thickened and reduced slightly.
- Cool to room temperature before putting it in a jar.
- Store the jam in the refrigerator, it will continue to thicken as it cools.
To Make the Beignets
- In a small bowl combine the warm water and yeast with a pinch of sugar and let them set for 5 minutes until the yeast mixture becomes thick and bubbles form.
- In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
- Add the cubed cold butter to the flour mixture and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until the flour resembles course sand.
- In another small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, Greek yogurt, egg, and vanilla bean paste.
- Add the yeast mixture to the buttermilk mixture.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together until combined.
- If the dough is very wet add a little more flour.
- Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for about 8 minutes until the dough feels smooth.
- Place the dough back into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and roll it out into a rectangle or square shape.
- Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into 8-10 squares or rectangles.
- Place the cut out dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rise again for about 45 more minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Uncover the dough and place on the middle rack of the oven to bake for 7-9 minutes or until light golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack.
- Dust the tops of the beignets with powdered sugar.
- Serve immediately with the blackberry bourbon vanilla jam for dipping.
Whole wheat flour is optional, if you don't have it use all regular flour.
You can also use a stand mixer to help knead the dough, but you will probably still need to knead it for a couple minutes by hand.
If you don't have bourbon for the jam or don't want to use it, you can omit it and the jam will still taste wonderful.
Mari Gras King Cake French Toast– The Law Student’s Wife
Homemade Monkey Bread Muffins– Dessert for Two
Easy Jambalaya– Iowa Girl Eats
Red Beans and Rice– The Kitchn
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Gumbo– Oh My Veggies
Traditional Mari Gras King Cake– Brown Eyed Baker