Here in the Tasting Table Test Kitchen, something tasty is always cooking. Sometimes we're testing recipes such as lamb chops with hazelnut gremolata for our Chefs' Recipes Edition or trying out dishes such as puffed black rice or smoked soba noodles for one of our city editions. Other times, party food takes over the test kitchen as our chef, Brendan McHale, and his team prep for Tasting Table events. One of Brendan's go-to recipes is for delicate ricotta beignets. He makes his own ricotta (click here for Brendan's homemade ricotta cheese recipe), though store-bought ricotta works nicely too. He folds the ricotta into a batter that rests for a few hours before being fried into sweet, puffy orbs. The beignets are finished with a copious amount of powdered sugar--and a tip of the hat to the chef.
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 1 dozen beignets
Cook Time: 20 minutes (plus 2 hours for the batter to rise)
3 large eggs
1½ vanilla beans, split and scraped
¾ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1¼ tablespoons baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
1½ cups homemade or store-bought ricotta cheese
Canola or grapeseed oil
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
1. Whisk the eggs and vanilla beans together in a small bowl.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture and the ricotta. Use a wooden spoon to combine, stirring until there are no dry streaks. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a dry, warm and draft-free spot until the batter has expanded and the interior is airy, 2 hours (the batter can be left out for up to 5 hours).
3. Heat 2 inches of oil over medium heat in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan until the oil reaches 350° on a digital thermometer.
4. Use a tablespoon measure to drop a generous spoonful of batter into the oil. Drop more tablespoons of batter into the pan, making sure the beignets have plenty of space to move around as they fry. Fry until each is browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per beignet (they'll flip over on their own). Use a frying spider or slotted spoon to transfer the beignets to a paper-towel-lined plate. Cook the remaining batter, making sure the oil comes back up to 350° between batches. Cool the beignets a few minutes, then shower with plenty of confectioners' sugar and serve.
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