A Story of New Orleans Desserts: The State Doughnut of Louisiana
The History of Hot, Fluffy Beignets
From Rome and Gaul, to the Great White North and finally making its way down to the Big Easy, beignets are a puffy, hot and sweet dessert that has countless historical variations of this iconic, classic, New Orleans Dessert. One of the many New Orleans Favorites, beignets steal the hearts of visitors and locals alike. But, what’s the real story behind these little NOLA Treasures?
French cooks developed two basic types of pastry: doughs that use yeast as a raising agent, and those that rise with their own steam. Doughs that are moist enough to use steam to fluff up are called choux pastries. One of the more signature choux pasteries are traditional New Orleans beignets.
French Beignets feature sweet fruit fillings as well as savory meats, cheeses, potatoes and seafood. These choux pasteries find their influence from Italy’s zeppole pastries and Germany’s spritzkuchen.
What New Orleans knows of as beignets, come from the French-Creole colonists. Early French settlers brought beignets with them as they migrated to the eastern coast of Canada, a region called Acadia, in the 17th century. The Acadians endured a forced migration as the British took control of the region a hundred years later and brought the concept of this classic New Orleans dessert down with them to New Orleans in the 18th century.
The concept of the dessert is simple—the moist dough is fried and then covered with mounds of powdered sugar. These square doughnuts, with a history as rich as its flavors, are most associated with the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans Favorites: 5 Facts about Beignets
- Unlike most doughnuts, beignets are square (the holes are not missing, here)
- Beignets are usually fried in oils that have a high “smoke point” (fewer fires happen because of this)
- Beignets are most often served with a thick dusting of powdered sugar (try not to wear black clothing)
- The choux pastry qualities of this dessert make for the fluffy center (no yeast, rises with steam)
- Beignets are traditionally enjoyed with hot coffee called cafe au lait a French phrase meaning “coffee with milk”
Morning Call Coffee Stand, New Orleans’ “most famous coffee drinking place”, has been serving café au lait and beignets to generations of locals and visitors since 1870. Founded by Joseph Jurisich and operated by succeeding generations, “one of the world’s great coffee houses” appeals to an eclectic and colorful clientele, and is recognized nationwide for offering a unique and traditional experience.
The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. Its menu consists of dark roasted Coffee and Chicory, Beignets, White and Chocolate Milk, and fresh squeezed Orange Juice. This establishment has made a name for the signature beignets they serve and the culture they provide to New Orleans (as a top tourist attraction and dining facility).
Café Beignet is a cup full of New Orleans’ best European traditions. New Orleans’ Café Beignet provides a grand café setting outside and in—as well as the “best coffee and beignets” in the city. Not only does this café serve breakfast all day, but Café Beignet also specializes in New Orleans Cajun Specialties and Fried Seafood. There is a meal for every palette at this French Quarter Restaurant.
But, What’s the Top New Orleans Favorite Beignet Hangout?
It’s safe to say that every local and visitor of the Big Easy will have his or her own take to the “best” place to eat a beignet, and some may say that they’re better if you make them yourself, but the real quest for beautiful New Orleans beignets should be a journey made on your own. Take a tour of New Orleans, get to know our city on a personal level and find out all of the tips a tricks that every New Orleans resident knows by heart.
Be a local, seek adventure and eat all of the beignets in the city of New Orleans. Don’t stop until you’ve found your favorite beignet fix.