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salted yolk & lotus paste beignets

Adapted from Joy the Baker.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. The night before, or 8 hours ahead: Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or a microwave just to a boil, about 2-3 minutes on the stovetop or 1 minute in the microwave. (This scalds the milk, so that no enzymes in the milk prevent the yeast from doing their thing.) If you find you’ve created a film on the surface of the milk by heating it too much, just pour it through a sieve.
  2. When the milk is just warm but no longer hot, about 100-110 degrees, stir in the sugar, then gently stir in the active dry yeast and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. If the milk-yeast mixture does not foam, you may want to start over to make sure your yeast is active.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. (See Joy’s original recipe for instructions on using a stand mixer.) Once the milk mixture is nice and foamy, add the Greek yogurt to the milk mixture and whisk until combined. Pour the yogurt-milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a shaggy, very wet dough forms. It will be sticky and too wet to knead by hand. This is good!
  4. Instead of kneading by hand, use a sturdy spatula to “knead” the dough in the bowl by stirring or folding the dough in on itself repeatedly. Do this for about 5-6 minutes, or until the dough grows smoother and more elastic. It doesn’t need to be perfect–the beauty of the overnight rise is that it’ll take care of anything we can’t kneading by hand. When you’re done, cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap or one of these. I like to leave it not totally airtight, as I find that a complete seal can make the dough taste slightly of alcohol the next day.
  5. The day of: Once the dough is well-doubled, use a sturdy spatula to scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface. Generously flour the top of the dough, then roll out to a rectangle about a ¼-inch in thickness.
  6. Crumble the egg yolk and lotus paste into small pieces (see Notes if your paste is very soft) and sprinkle them evenly and generously across the dough. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, then again widthwise, into quarters.
  7. Flour the dough again, then roll the dough out one more time to a rectangle about ½- to ⅓-inch in thickness. The dough should be wet enough that the layers hold together. Use a floured pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into about 12 or so pieces (or more, for smaller beignets).
  8. Fill a heavy-bottomed saucepan (I like using a Staub Dutch oven for this) with enough oil to fill it to a depth of about two to three inches. Heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F, using a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer to check the temperature. Place several layers of paper towel on a clean work surface or large plate, and a cooling rack on top, if you have one.
  9. When the oil is hot, use a fish spatula or spider skimmer to gently add the beignets to the hot oil. Try not to overcrowd the pan–like Joy, I fried about three at a time. Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping them once or twice during frying, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil and place on cooling rack or paper towels to drain. Immediately dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar.
  10. Make sure the oil is back at 375 degrees F, then repeat with the other batches of beignets until all the dough is cooked through and dusted with sugar. Grate extra lotus paste (things I did not know were grate-able until now) and salted egg yolk, if desired, and serve immediately. These are best straight out of the fryer or eaten within a few hours of frying–have lots of friends over and enjoy!

Notes

The lotus paste is ideal here if it can hold its shape, almost like the consistency of fudge. If you have homemade lotus paste or your paste is very soft, cook it over low heat in a skillet to firm it up a bit.

If using buttermilk instead of Greek yogurt, use 6 tablespoons milk and ¾ cup buttermilk, adding the buttermilk where the Greek yogurt is called for.