Cheddar and chive beignets

Cheddar and chive beignets

By
From
How to Cook Pastry
Makes
20-24
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

These can be served as canapés or to accompany soups. Tiny beignets like these can be made in all manner of flavours, so experiment with adding other ingredients; just make sure any additions are not too wet or the beignets won’t hold their shape.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
220ml water
85g butter
105g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon english mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs
100g strong cheddar cheese
1/4 bunch chives
oil, for deep-frying
salt

Method

  1. Measure the water into a small saucepan. Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and add to the water. Place over a low heat to melt the butter, without letting the water simmer or boil.
  2. Meanwhile, sift the flour, a pinch of salt and the spices 2 or 3 times to aerate and remove any lumps, doing the last sifting onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Fold the paper to create a pocket for the flour.
  3. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high. As the water begins to boil and rises up the sides of the pan, shoot the flour in, remove from the heat and beat vigorously for just 20–30 seconds, until the flour is fully incorporated, there are no lumps and the panade is a uniform colour and coming away from the side of the pan.
  4. Spread the panade onto a plate to allow it to cool to tepid (about 38°C).
  5. Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork.
  6. Once the panade is cool to the touch, return it to the pan and beat 1 tbsp egg in vigorously, using a wooden spoon. Once the egg is fully incorporated, add a little more egg and beat again. Continue to add about three quarters of the remaining egg in this way, beating well to incorporate each addition before adding the next. Initially the panade will thicken, but as more egg is beaten in it will start to loosen and become smooth and shiny.
  7. Check the consistency is a reluctant dropping consistency. If it is too stiff, continue to add egg in small additions until the correct consistency is achieved, but don’t add too much or the choux won’t hold its shape and will struggle to rise.
  8. Finely grate the cheese and finely chop the chives, then stir both well into the choux pastry.
  9. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan half-filled with oil, to 195°C, or until a small piece of bread dropped into the oil browns in 25 seconds. Using 2 lightly oiled teaspoons, drop spoonfuls of the choux into the hot oil, a few at a time.
  10. As the beignets heat up, tap them lightly with a spoon and they should expand and puff up. Deep-fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown, crisp and cooked through. Remove the beignets with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with a little salt and serve warm.

Variations

  • To make blue cheese and sage beignets, replace the Cheddar and chives with 75–100g finely crumbled blue cheese and 2–3 finely shredded sage leaves.

    To make crab, chilli and coriander beignets, omit the Cheddar and chives. Add 50g white crab meat and 25g brown crab meat with a finely diced, deseeded red chilli and 1 tbsp chopped coriander.

    All the above beignets can be baked in the oven, preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6, for 10–15 minutes rather than deep-fried. They are cooked when golden brown and firm to the touch.
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