Let the good times roll ~ as soon as I saw this month's Chocolate with Francois recipe I immediately wanted to celebrate. First all of anything fried with a chocolate center is heaven in my book ! Then beignets-oh my goodness-the word alone takes me right to the French Quarter in New Orleans. Julie from Leave Room for Dessert is our hostess with the mostest this month and takes us on a beignet baking bash !
Now back to my beignet moment . I spent 2 weeks in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity back in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. Not building houses, but gutting the interiors of homes, so that people could salvage something -anything -no matter how small. That was one moving lesson for me in what is important in life. At one of the houses, I was digging through mud and muck , and found a baby's christening outfit sandwiched between layers of mud. Yet the gown was almost pristine, preserved only by the cardboard box it was inside of. Of all of the things I saw during those two weeks that was the first of many things that moved me to tears. For whatever reason that little baby's gown was saved from the disaster called Katrina. The parents would be coming by later,once we all cleared out to pick up what we salvaged. I couldn't even imagine how they might feel seeing that this was the only thing we could salvage. I remember carefully setting that gown outside on the porch-it was more precious than jewels. And then as I stepped back and surveyed the huge pile of debris and damaged property we had set outside-it was just too overwhelming to think about people who had worked their entire lives to build a home, to make memories, to have someplace safe to come back to-and it was all gone -all except for the baby's gown. I like to think that little white gown brought some type of comfort to them-it wasn't much but it was some small piece of their history that for whatever reason was the only thing to be found. That day it really hit home about what is important in life-our family, our friends.
And that night , the group I was working with decided to celebrate each other by going to the French Quarter. That led to my introduction to the incredible beignets at Cafe du Mond. Ohhh the lightness of them, and the powdered sugar-by the time we were finished we looked like we had been working in a cocaine processing factory ! Covered in powdered sugar -head to toe !
We made several trips back to Cafe du Mond during those 2 weeks for beignets. Those visits matched our visits to another new discovery for me-drive through daiquiris-yup drive thru just like a Starbucks drive thru, but there you get daiquiris !You have to love a place that gives you some of the best jazz in the world,beignets and drive thru daiquiris !
Now you know a little about why just hearing the word beignet floods me with memories. This particular recipe sounded too good. A beignet batter with beer-holy hops Batman-beer batter,fried, and chocolate center-the trifecta ! Yet again another challenge by Chef Payard-the recipe calls for dipping the chocolate ganache balls into the beignet batter. Well let me tell you , my beignet batter was not of dipping quality. It was like a thick wet ciabatta dough-not to be dipped ! So I shook my head and figured whomever is translating Chef Payard's recipes is missing something in translation. I improvised and would pull off small chunks of dough and form them around the ganache balls like a little bread boule. It worked out very well and when I dropped the little beignet boules into the hot oil-voila-puffed up beignets. They had such a nice yeasty flavor from the beer being added and the ganache centers were all melty and delicious. This recipe is a keeper-I will definitely be making these again !
Want more of Francois Payard ? Buy the book-it's choc full of chocolate recipes !! Fabulous, delectable and delicious recipes.