Hometown Hungers: New Orleans Beignets

Traditionally served for breakfast in New Orleans, beignets are a deep-fried pastry best served hot and heaped with sugar. Food Network has the scoop.

When the sun rises in New Orleans, so do the beignets. Traditionally served for breakfast in the Crescent City, these signature pastries are much like NOLA itself: a touch indulgent, yet totally irresistible.

Beignet is French for “fritter,” but here in the United States these airy pillows of fried dough are known as the official doughnut of Louisiana. The pastry arrived from France by way of Canada back in the 18th century. That’s when French colonists were forced to leave Canada’s eastern coast (then known as Acadia) in the years following Britain’s conquest of the region. They brought with them the recipe for this simple pastry that has since become synonymous with Louisiana — and New Orleans in particular.

Such has the demand for beignets grown through the decades that they’ve made their way onto many a NOLA menu, with tourists and locals alike flocking to places such as Café Du Monde and the Morning Call Coffee Stand, which have been churning out the sugar-topped treats in the Crescent City since the 1800s.

“The best traditional beignets are freshly hand-rolled, cut and fried to doughy perfection. They are then dusted with powdered sugar and served hot,” said Gordon Stevens, who is part owner of Café Beignet, where fans like Alton Brown stop in to get their fix of the city’s signature sweet dish. A popular pairing for the pastry is a cup of the distinctively bitter and full-bodied chicory coffee, another NOLA staple served at many spots that offer the delicate, fried-dough squares.

For those who want a sweet bite of beignet but can’t catch a ride to the Crescent City, check out Food Network’s gallery of top spots outside of Louisiana turning out classic takes on the deep-fried delight.

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