Our delicious New Orleans Beignets are fun to make during Mardi Gras or anytime of year. We discovered beignets on a visit to New Orleans and have also enjoyed them each time we visit the Disney parks.
Combine the yeast, water, and sugar and let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl or mixer, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, salt, and evaporated milk. Blend in about half the flour, then add the shortening and blend in well, then add the rest of the flour. You want the dough to be soft but not sticky. Add small amounts of flour as needed. It's best when the dough just barely stops sticking to the side of the bowl or mixer.
Cover loosely and let the dough raise in the fridge at least 3 hours or overnight.
Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a large square. Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 2 inch squares for mini beignets. For full size beignets make 4 inch squares. Remove squares to a cookie sheet lined with cooking spray and let raise for 30 to 40 minutes.
Pour vegetable oil into a deep fry pan over the stove on medium high to heat. When oil is hot, test a small piece of dough in the oil to make sure it's hot enough, the dough should float to the top and begin to brown within a few seconds.
Prepare by setting out a large plate topped with paper towels and a large slotted spoon near the stove, these cook quickly! Also fill your paper bag with about a cup of powdered sugar.
Carefully place several pieces of dough in the oil, when you see the edges turning golden, quickly flip them over and cook for a few seconds more. Use a slotted spoon to remove dough from the oil and place on the paper towels. Let drain for about 30 seconds.
Toss beignets into the paper bag filled with powdered sugar. Seal the top and shake to coat. Add more powdered sugar as needed as you go. Remove beignets to a plate and serve immediately, they taste best warm!
Prep time includes the time it takes the dough to raise in the refrigerator and at room temperature.