Mini Beignets are easy to make and are the perfect sweet to celebrate Mardi Gras!
In France, we celebrate Mardi gras by eating beignets and going out in the streets costumed for the Carnival. I loved it when I was a kid in elementary school, we would all dress up and spend the day parading in the streets of my town, throwing confetti at people. We would then gather to eat beignets (and Bugnes) that grandmothers would have brought for everyone to share.
What is Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras, which is also known as “Fat Tuesday,” is a holiday that is celebrated in many parts of the world. It is a time of celebration, marked by colorful parades, lively music, and festive costumes.
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced back to ancient Rome, where people celebrated a festival called Saturnalia in honor of the god Saturn. During this festival, which took place in December, people would dress up in costumes and engage in raucous partying.
When Christianity became the dominant religion in Rome, the festival of Saturnalia was replaced with a period of fasting and reflection leading up to Easter, known as Lent. This period, which lasts for forty days, is a time of self-discipline and reflection, during which Catholics are expected to give up certain indulgences, such as meat, alcohol, or sweets.
In France, the traditions vary from region to region, but one of the most famous is the carnival in Nice.
The Nice Carnival is one of the largest and most elaborate Mardi Gras celebrations in France. It lasts for two weeks and features parades of floats, dancers, and musicians, as well as numerous other events such as concerts and fireworks displays. The floats are particularly impressive, featuring intricate designs and animations that can take up to a year to create.
One of the most iconic features of the Nice Carnival is the throwing of confetti and flowers. During the parades, the participants toss flowers and confetti to the spectators, who in turn throw them back. This tradition dates back to the 19th century, when flowers were thrown to celebrate the end of the winter and the arrival of spring.
Popular Mardi Gras recipes
Another tradition associated with Mardi Gras in France is the making of sweets. Here are a few popular to make and eat during Mardi Gras:
- Bugnes – These are small, deep-fried pastries that are popular in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. They are similar to beignets or doughnuts and we make them with a variety of flavors, such as orange zest or anise.
- Beignets – These are also a popular Mardi Gras treat in some regions of France, particularly in the south. Beignets are deep-fried doughnuts, you can fill with a variety of ingredients, such as chocolate, fruit, or cream. You can use the recipe below to make about 10 full size beignets and fill them with the filling of your choice.
- Crêpes – Crêpes are also associated with Mardi Gras in France as they are a symbol of the sun and the return of spring. You can fill the crepes with sweet or savory ingredients, such as Nutella, whipped cream, or jam or cheese, ham, or eggs.
- Waffles – They are different variety of waggles that we make and eat during Mardi Gras.
Tips to fry the Mini beignets
This recipe is very easy, the only complicated part is the frying if you have never fried food before.
Be sure that the oil reaches 180°C (360°F) and stay at this temperature (I keep my pot on medium heat all the time). Use a thermomether to check the temperature.
If the oil is too hot, your mini beignets will burn before cooking inside. However, if the oil is not hot enough, they will soak in the oil and be very greasy.
To make things easy, you can buy a deep fryer. I personally don’t have one but have been thinking about buying one for a while. It helps keep the perfect temperature at all time.
If you don’t want to invest, a deep pot is enough. Make sure to not use one that is too wide or you will end up wasting a lot of oil. Don’t be cheap with the oil, you need enough to “bath” your food in it. You can also reuse the oil for future frying for about 4 times. Just filter it and save it in a bottle for future use. In general, it is best not to add new oil to an already used one.
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Mini Beignets recipe for Mardi Gras
- Stand Mixer (with hook attachment)
- Deep Fryer (optional)
- Deep pot (if you don't have a deep fryer)
- Cookie cutter
- 250 g farine
- 30 g sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 g dry yeast
- 1 egg
- 90 ml milk
- 30 g butter room temperature
- Sugar for decor
- Warm half of the milk (it has to be barely worm, not hot) and stir in the yeast with a bit of sugar to activate.
- In the meantime, prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl, add the yeast, egg and milk. Knead with the hook attachment until all ingredients are mixed. Add the butter and knead for about 5 minutes, the dough should detach itself from the bowl.
- Cover with a towel and let rest for 1hour.
- Place the risen dough on a floured surface, and roll it gently to 1 cm (less than 1/2in). use a cookie cutter to cut mini beignets.
- Cover them for 1 hour so they can rise.
- Eat your oil to 180°C (360°F). When it has reached the temperature, drop a few pieces in the oil. Fry for a couple of minutes, turn them around and fry another couple of minutes.
- Move to a plate covered with paper towel to remove excess oil and then dip directly in sugar.
- Repeat with remaining beignets.