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Chocolate-Filled Beignets

Makes 12 beignets

Unlike the square doughnuts in New Orleans’ French Market, these beignets are round, and they each hold a surprise – a rich candy circle made from three delicious flavors of chocolate!

Find this recipe and more in Chef Paul Prudhomme's Kitchen Expedition.

ingredients
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
½ ounce semi-sweet chocolate
2½ ounces white chocolate
3 ounces milk chocolate
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus flour for dusting
3 tablespoons baking powder
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, in all
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil + additional oil for frying
2 large eggs, in all
powdered sugar, optional, or cane syrup, optional
how to prepare
If you don't have cookie cutters in the sizes called for, you can use glasses or jars, provided the "cutting edges" aren't too thick. As you read the recipe, you'll see it's a little bit of trouble, but definitely worth it –feed somebody you love with these wonderful chocolate-filled beignets. Ces sont bons! 

This is two recipes in one, because you can use the chocolate mixture and the dough to make other treats. Try the chocolate as a dip for fresh fruit—we’ve tasted it with strawberries with great results—or as a topping for plain cake or ice cream. Just don’t refrigerate it so it will stay soft. And use your imagination to come up with other wonderful fillings for the beignets—fresh fruit such as diced apples or bananas, chopped nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, and so forth. If you have company you could set out bowls of fillings and let your guests make and cook their own—just keep the dough very cold and slip the finished beignets into the freezer for a few minutes to re-chill before frying. I love it when you use my recipes as a springboard for your own kitchen expeditions!

Add enough water to the bottom of a double boiler to fill it one-third, place it over high heat, and bring the water to a boil.  Place the butter and all the varieties of chocolate in the top of the double boiler over the boiling water, and heat, stirring constantly, just until the butter-chocolate mixture melts.  If you don’t have a double boiler, you can melt the butter and chocolates in a skillet that will fit atop a 3-quart saucepan one-third full of boiling water.  The important thing here is to heat the chocolate just until it melts, but no longer, and to keep stirring constantly as it melts so it will incorporate the butter.  Remove the pan of chocolate mixture from the heat and let it cool, stirring every 3 or 4 minutes, until it reaches room temperature. 

Place a 12-inch by 12-inch piece of parchment or wax paper on a sheet pan and fold up the sides to form a 6-inch by 6-inch square box.  Spread the chocolate mixture evenly inside the paper box—it should be about ½ inch thick—and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to harden the chocolate so you can cut it easily.

In the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook, combine the flour, baking powder, ¼ cup of the sugar, and the salt.  Mix at low speed just until the dry ingredients are combined, then add the vanilla, milk, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 egg.  Mix at low speed until the ingredients are combined, then increase the speed to medium and mix, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the ingredients form a soft dough, about 4 minutes.  Refrigerate the dough until very cold, at least 3 hours. 

When the dough is very cold, make an egg wash by processing in a blender the remaining egg,  two tablespoons of water, and the remaining sugar. 

Lightly flour a flat surface and transfer the dough to this surface.  Lightly flour the dough and a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick.  Using a 2½-inch cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles, and make 12 circles with a 3-inch cookie cutter—do your rolling and cutting in batches if your work surface is small.  Brush one side of each dough circle with the egg wash and place them to the refrigerator. 

Remove the chocolate from the freezer and, using a 1½-inch cookie cutter, cut 12 circles out of the chocolate, and use a flat spatula to remove them from the parchment or wax paper.  Assemble the beignets—place a 3-inch dough circle on a clean surface, egg washed side up, and place a chocolate circle in the center of the dough circle.  Center a 2½-inch dough circle, egg washed side down, on top of the chocolate.  Bring up the edge of the bottom dough circle over the edge of the top dough circle and seal the edges firmly by crimping them with your fingers or the tines of a fork all the way around.  Turn the beignet over and seal the edges again.  If you use a fork, flour it occasionally as you work and be careful not to pierce the dough.  This step is very important—you must be sure the seal is tight, or the chocolate will escape from the dough circles and ruin the oil.   Repeat to make 12 beignets, and refrigerate until they are very cold, at least 3 hours.

When you’re ready to fry the beignets, pour enough oil into a large skillet with high sides to measure 2 inches, and heat it to 300°.  Use a cooking thermometer and adjust the heat so the temperature of the oil stays between  250° and 300°.  An electric skillet, if you have one, works great.  Warning:  You will notice that as soon as you put the beignets into the oil, the temperature will rapidly increase.  You’d think the oil would cool somewhat since the beignets are cold, but the reverse happens—it’s a law of thermodynamics and always happens when you add something very cold to something very hot.  Watch the temperature closely and be ready to adjust it, because after the rapid rise in temperature, it will fall very rapidly.  You don’t want it to fall below 250°, yet the beignets may break open and ruin the batch if the oil temperature climbs too high.  Also, if the oil is too hot the beignets will brown before they are done on the inside.  Fry the beignets, in batches if necessary to prevent crowding, turning several times, until they are light gold, about 3 to 4 minutes per batch.  Drain on paper towels and serve as soon as they are cool enough to handle.  Dust lightly with powdered sugar or drizzle with cane syrup, if desired.

Note: This is two recipes in one, because you can use the chocolate mixture and the dough to make other treats.  Try the chocolate as a dip for fresh fruit—we’ve tasted  it with strawberries with great results—or as a topping for plain cake or ice cream.  Just don’t refrigerate it so it will stay soft.  And use your imagination to come up with other wonderful fillings for the beignets—fresh fruit such as diced apples or bananas, chopped nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, and so forth.  If you have company you could set out bowls of fillings and let your guests make and cook their own—just keep the dough very cold and slip the finished beignets into the freezer for a few minutes to re-chill before frying. 

Copyright© 1996 by Paul Prudhomme

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