Cinnamon Apple Beignets
Cinnamon Apple Beignets are just a fancy name for apple fritters. (Perhaps you know the pronunciation for the French word, beignet, is “ben-YAY”, but I’m just going to leave that here in case, like me, you never wanted to make them because you were afraid to say it wrong.) Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s talk about making these incredible French-American donuts, because Fat Tuesday is coming. (Just in case you need an excuse to make these.)
Pictured above are the simple ingredients, which look identical to the ingredients for apple pancakes. In fact, mixing up this batter is only different in the way that the eggs are added. The dry ingredients are combined with only the yolks of the eggs, then the milk and oil are mixed in. The egg whites are whipped separately, until they are stiff, and then folded into the batter, making it light and fluffy. See, only ONE step away from pancakes. Yet, TEN times better. Don’t roll your eyes at me, I’ve done the math a dozen times and always get the same answer.
The apples, above left, are peeled, cored and sliced into rings. I do not have an apple corer so here’s how I get around that: I cut the apple crosswise in half, scoop the core out of the center with a spoon, then flip it over and carefully cut the stem out with a sharp knife. I slice each cored apple half crosswise into three “rings”, then toss them in some lemon juice while I repeat with all the apples. If you have an Apple Corer, even easier. (I’m adding this one to my list.)
All that is left to do is dip the apple slices into the batter and then carefully place them into hot oil to cook. I use a “shallow fry” method, heating about 2 inches of peanut oil and then turning them once to brown both sides. Once cooked, I transfer the beignets to a paper-towel lined plate, to drain a bit of oil off them, then toss them, while still hot, in a bowl of cinnamon sugar to coat.
I discovered this recipe many years ago in The New Basics Cookbook, and made them on weekends when we went skiing. Sometimes I made them ahead of time and reheated them in the morning using the oven (in the old days when I couldn’t wait to get on the mountain- ha!). This can be done, but they are the best right after they are made. Four apples makes 2 dozen Cinnamon Apple Beignets, twice as many as you see in these photos. I stopped in the middle of making them to take the photos because my hubs was standing over my shoulder drooling all over the kitchen. After we gobbled down this batch with some strong coffee, I made the rest to take to our daughter at school. She said they were delicious reheated. (Like a good daughter who doesn’t want the flow of homemade food to college to cease.)
I have to admit that looking at these photos and typing this right now is torture. I SO want to scrap my dinner plans and make another batch of these instead. I hardly think my hubs would protest. (Especially since I made them with a side of crispy bacon.)
I’ve never been to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but it may be worth it to see if the beignets are as good as these. In the meantime, making these is less effort (and expense) than travelling. No need to pack a bag, get out your apple peeler and let’s get started.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, I use safflower oil
- 4 McIntosh apples
- 1 lemon, halved
- Vegetable or peanut oil for deep-frying
- Sift (or whisk) the flour, a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and 1/3 cup milk and stir with a spatula to form a smooth paste.
- Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup milk and the 1 tbsp vegetable oil, mixing until the batter is smooth. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- Combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl and set it aside.
- Peel the apples and rub them with one half lemon to prevent discoloration. Core and slice them into 1/2 inch thick rings and toss them with the juice of the remaining lemon half in a bowl.
- Beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
- Fill a deep fryer or deep skillet with oil to a depth of 2 inches, and heat it to 375 degrees F.
- Dip the apple slices into the batter, coating them well. Lift them out of the bowl with a fork, allowing the excess batter to drip off. Cook them, in batches, in the hot oil, turning them once, until they are well browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes.
- Drain the beignets on paper towels and then toss them immediately in the cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.
Donut lovers, try: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Donut Muffins.