About this time every year we read about New Orleans and its fabulous food―including beignets―and I start to salivate! Beignets are like doughnuts—fried and dusted with powdered sugar—but without the holes.
Typically served in groups of 3 and liberally dusted with powdered sugar, these delectable little pillows are similar to the sopaipillas served in Mexican restaurants and are quite easy to make. Despite their association with New Orleans’ French Quarter at this time of year, they are appropriate anywhere, anytime.
Adapted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Wiley, 2008)
Serve beignets with the darkest, richest coffee you can find such as a coffee-chicory blend for authenticity. New Orleans’ restaurants traditionally serve them with Café au Lait (dark coffee and heated milk).
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup Carol’s Brown Rice Flour Blend (see below)
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter or buttery spread, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Brown rice flour for dusting
Canola oil or peanut oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
 In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of the sugar in 1/2 cup warm water and stir in yeast until thoroughly mixed. Set aside 5 minutes to foam.
 In a large mixing bowl, combine flour blend, potato starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, salt, and remaining sugar in large mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture, butter, and vanilla. Blend with electric mixer on low, adding remaining 2 to 4 tablespoons of warm water (a tablespoon at a time) to form thick but soft dough. Or, place all ingredients in food processor and process until thoroughly blended and dough forms a soft ball. Whether using a mixer or food processor, the dough should come together in large chunks or one ball when it reaches the proper consistency and it should be smooth and shiny when gathered into a ball and kneaded with your hands.
 Wrap half of dough in plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Roll other half of dough to 8-inch square of 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap that are dusted with rice flour. To prevent slipping, place a wet paper towel under bottom plastic wrap to anchor it. Cut in 2-inch squares, trimming away any ragged edges.
 Heat the oil to 370 to 375°F at a depth of 4 inches in a heavy-duty saucepan on the stove or an electric fryer (following manufacturer’s directions).
 Use a slotted spoon to gently slide squares of dough into hot oil (to avoid splattering). When dough rises to the top, turn over to help beignet puff evenly. Cook until lightly browned on both sides, turning several times to encourage even browning (about 1 to 2 minutes total cooking time). Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining half of dough. Serve immediately with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. Makes about 24 beignets.
Carol’s Brown Rice Flour Blend
1 ½ cups brown rice flour
1 ½ cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca starch/flour
Whisk together thoroughly and store tightly covered in a dark, dry place.
 Fry only a few beignets at a time to keep the oil temperature from dropping. Let the temperature return to 370-375°F between each batch. I use a tall, narrow heavy-duty saucepan (about 6-inches wide across the top) which allows me to fry about two at a time.
 Use a candy thermometer following manufacturer’s directions to monitor the oil’s temperature.
 If the beignets don’t puff up, it might be due to the oil temperature being too low OR the dough rolled too thin or too thick. Be sure the dough is 1/8-inch thick for best results.
 Hot oil is dangerous and the beignets fry up quickly so stay focused. Don’t leave the hot oil untended.
For safety, keep children and pets away from the hot oil.
 Beignets are best eaten right after frying, while still slightly warm.