Pastry chef Dana Cree of Blackbird restaurant in Chicago (opened by James Beard award-winning chef Paul Kahan) gave a welcoming tweak to the popular doughnut trend. While we love the idea of incorporating fresh sage into the dough, it's the cinnamon, blackberry jam, and Zinfandel dipping sauce that has us swooning. Don't feel too guilty. After all, the holidays come but just once a year.
1 ¼ cups milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
¼ cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp soft butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp sage powder (optional)
1 quart vegetable oil
1. Mix milk, yeast, and honey in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Combine yeast mixture with cream and egg yolk in the bowl of a standing mixer and whisk until combined.
3. Add flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed for five minutes.
4. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed for 10 more minutes.
5. Transfer the dough (it will be a little sticky) to a lightly oiled container. Cover and store in the refrigerator for six hours, preferably overnight.
6. Remove the cold dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Roll the dough to a thickness of ½ an inch.
7. Cut the dough into 1 ½-inch squares. Arrange the squares one-inch apart on flour dusted cookie sheets and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Set the beignets aside in a warm place and proof for 45 minutes.
8. Prepare to fry the beignets. Place the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Secure a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. When the oil nears 350 degrees, adjust the temperature on your stove to maintain the oil at 350 degrees.
9. When the beignets have proofed for 30 minutes, carefully transfer them to the hot oil, four or five at a time. Fry them, gently flipping them over constantly, until golden brown, about three-to-five minutes.
10. Remove the beignets from the oil and drain on the paper towels. Sift the powdered sugar (together with the sage if using) and promptly toss the warm beignets until well coated.
Zinfandel Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups blackberry jam
1 cup Zinfandel (Cree prefers Ravenswood)
5 sage leaves
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup brown sugar
2 cups blackberry jam
1. Place the zinfandel, sage leaves, cinnamon stick, and brown sugar in a small pot and cook over medium-low heat until the wine reduces to ½ cup.
2. Remove the sage leaves and cinnamon from the syrup, and stir the syrup with the blackberry jam.
3. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before serving. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
1. If you want to prepare this recipe in advance of the party, you can wrap the cut beignets and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or in the freezer for up to a week.
2. Place a small container of oil in the freezer. In the instance that the oil gets too hot, you can cool it quickly by adding the cold oil.
3. Since the oil can splatter as you cook, set a bowl of ice water to set on the counter in case it splashes on your skin. This way, you can plunge your hand directly into ice water to ease the burn.
4. If you find yourself occupied with other tasks for your party, you can allow your beignets to cool entirely before tossing them in the powdered sugar. However, the warmth of the recent frying helps the powdered sugar stick to the beignets in a thicker layer. It also gives the beignets a mottled look rather than the precise powdery coating of a grocery store doughnut hole.