Wake and Bake: Baked Beignets with Chicory Coffee Sauce

Carrie Vasios

First things first. Beignets are a deep fried yeast pastry best known for their popularity in the Big Easy. As you can read from the title, these, then, are not beignets. Indeed, I am fully aware that even calling this pastry "baked beignets" puts me at risk of being attacked from all sides by angry beignet-lovers who would probably like to drop me into a bubbling deep fryer and say, "Now that's closer to a beignet."

And yet I've insisted. Why? I have a friend coming over to celebrate Mardi Gras and, for health reasons, he can't eat fried foods. I know, why not just skip it and indulge in Kings Cake instead? Why not go straight to the rice and beans? Because when someone asks me for "not fried beignets" I will not laugh in their face, shove an encyclopedia in their hands, and walk away. I will do my best to please them. Did no one else see that episode of Friends where Monica can't stop making the Christmas candy for her neighbors? Cooking in return for love is a psychological problem, so just leave me be.

For those of you still with me, I'll explain what these "beignets" are. They start with a yeasted buttermilk dough that is very similar to the normal beignet recipe. The dough puffs up nicely in the oven, becoming a soft, golden brown, and mildly sweet rectangle.

When they're still hot out of the oven, the beignets are rolled in confectioners' sugar, and, when they're cool, I roll them again. To make them indulgent for Fat Tuesday, I serve them with a chocolate coffee sauce made from another New Orleans specialty: chicory coffee. In fact for those of us not on a diet, I'd recommend pouring the sauce into individual ramekins to serve alongside the warm beignets. They are extra delicious when each bite is preceded by a dunk in the warm, chocolaty sauce.