Sometimes, nothing satisfies quite like a plate full of hot dough, fat, and sugar. I'm speaking, of course, of beignets. When the mood strikes, these pillowy confections simply can't be replaced. People may try to ply you with Indian fry bread, funnel cakes, or perhaps even sopapillas. The particularly unscrupulous might even attempt to fob off a bag of greasy and hollow (literally and psychologically) Cinnamon Twistas from Taco Bell. Let them keep their State Fair novelties and anti dusting agent.
My beignet itch is most often scratched by Crescent City Beignets. They're close to my house, inexpensive, and delicious. There are actually quite a few options to consider, ranging from the classic pillow-shaped puffs of fried dough topped with a liberal dose of powdered sugar, to kid-friendly beignet sticks coated in sickly-sweet chocolate or strawberry sauce.
For my money, the original is the only way to go. The puff factor is important, here. Trapped air is essential in creating the signature texture of crispy outside and cloudlike interior, and the originals have just the right surface area for the job. The skinny ones end up being overly dense, in my opinion. The sauces are also ignorable, tasting, as they do, like melted Halloween candy of dubious provenance.
You have to be careful about timing, as well. Show up right after Lamar High School and St. John's let out across the street, and the small shop gets jam-packed with teenagers looking for a sugar fix. This can create an unfortunate overloading of the fryer, the crush lowering the temperature of the oil, resulting in grease-heavy beignets.
Go when it's quiet. Grab a café au lait, and tear into your beignets as soon as they hit the table. You will scorch your fingers, but it will be worth it. Just be careful not to inhale as you bite, lest you end up choking on powdered sugar, and up look like some sort of coked-up dragon.
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