Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chocolate Cinnamon Beignets - TWD: Baking with Julia

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia - 102nd installment. The recipe is Chocolate Cinnamon Beignets.
These were a bit of a project (beware - frying pan full of oil to manage), but they turned out great.  They are a cross between filled doughnuts and cream puffs - a chocolate cinnamon dough wrapped around vanilla/carmelized banana filling.
You start with a chocolate cream puff dough - this could be useful in the future just for making chocolate cream puffs or eclairs.  The chocolate flavor comes from cocoa, and it calls for the usual method of heating butter and liquid, stirring in flour over the burner, and then beating in eggs.
At this point, it goes off in a different direction from the usual.  You chill that dough, wrapped in plastic, and then once chilled, you fold in flour to make it more solidly dough-like and able to be rolled out.  This dough is chilled again. This photo has the basic chilled cream puff dough on the left, and the flour-added dough on the right.

After the dough is chilled again, you roll it out and cut out large (4 inch) circles.  These are chilled again before it's time to assemble the beignets.
Meanwhile, you prepare the filling - a basic vanilla creme anglais (i.e. vanilla sauce/pudding) with egg yolks and some cornstarch to thicken - and chill that.  The filling is enhanced with bananas that are carmelized in melted sugar in a frying pan.  Those get cooled, mashed up and put into the creme anglais.
Time to assemble the beignets.  The recipe calls for using a potsticker press to close up the beignets.  Here was the setup when I optimistically started:

Alas, the potsticker press did NOT work well for this (maybe I have a substandard potsticker press :-) and perhaps my circles were a little too small for this press.  I ended up changing gears and just pressing the edges closed with hands and crimping with a fork.  
Here's the sheet of dumplings after assembly. You can see a couple of poorly shaped ones at the top of the frame - oops!  I also had lots of filling left over - didn't need so much as the recipe made.

The assembled dumplings are frozen for several hours (I just did one hour, and all was fine) and then fry them on the stove top.  One of life's little victories - I didn't have a thermometer for the oil, but was able to guesstimate when it was ready for frying.
The recipe also includes a walnut sauce - ground walnuts, butter, heavy cream, sugar, and walnut oil.  It didn't look fabulous, but tasted very nice, and the beignets themselves had a great combination of flavors and textures - crunchy exterior, cream-puffy interior, banana/vanilla creamy filling.  We ate most of them immediately, but there were a few left, which we had the next day for breakfast - surprisingly good as a leftover!