I went to a very feminist all-girls’ school in New York. There were all sorts of legends about the founder: a suffragette mauled to death on a wheel–they got more and more wild and heroic until she was the feminine reincarnation of Hercules, singled-handedly accomplishing the immortal task of securing women in the vote on the great, grey streets of New York. A great mural dominated the second floor hallway, of women doing men’s work. And in math, when we reached the number 19, we were told over and over again to remember: the 19th Amendment, in 1919 (even though we subsequently discovered it was passed in 1920).
Lesson learned? It may be painful, but you vote. Or else.
So, today, I graduate from pupil, to illustrious head mistress, telling you to VOTE VOTE VOTE your heart out for my Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets with Vanilla Bean Sugar for Bon Appetit’s holiday bakeoff. Like my heroic suffragette academic forebear, I can’t do it alone. Plus, there are no cog wheels involved in this kind of voting. It’s all gastronomic pleasure as you meander through pages of holiday desserts to die for.
Follow this link, register, and scroll through. My entry is in the “Miscellaneous” category. You can flip through by clicking “Vote on Next Batch,” and then just click on my Spiced Pumpkin and Bourbon Beignets. It will turn green, and then, just cast your vote!
And truly, THANK YOU.
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 2 tablespoons Bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Pinch salt
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 Golden Delicious apple, peeled and grated (only for gilding the lily; optional for Thanksgiving)
- Vegetable oil for frying
Ingredients for the Vanilla Bean Sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 used vanilla pod
Procedure for the Beignets
- Combine the pumpkin, Bourbon, spices, brown sugar, salt, water, and butter in a medium saucepot. Cover, and sit over medium high heat until the butter is just melted and the mixture is bubbling.
- Take the pan off the heat, and dump in all the flour at once. Using a wooden spoon, stir forcefully and rapidly until all the flour is absorbed. Place the pan back on the heat over medium-low heat for 30-45 seconds, until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan. Decant the hot dough into a large bowl.
- Stir the dough around to cool it off, and then add the eggs one at a time. Add one egg, and use the wooden spoon to stir it in. You could also use an electric hand mixer. Once the egg is absorbed, add the next, and then repeat for the third egg. The final pumpkin spice choux pastry should be smooth, thick, and sticky. The perfect way to gild the lily for Thanksgiving is to add 1/2 peeled and grated Golden Delicious apple to the pastry dough now, before frying. It adds autumnal sweetness and moisture that is irresistible.
- Heat a deep pan half full of vegetable oil until it registers between 310 and 325 degrees on a candy thermometer. Drop in teaspoon-sized amounts of dough in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan and effectively drop the temperature of the oil. Fry the beignets for 6 to 9 minutes. The trick is to allow them to fry until they crack. The fissure will expand. That is what creates the puff inside the beignet. When the fissure and the rest of the beignet are about the same color, six to nine minutes should have passed, and you’ll know the inside is cooked. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Toss with the vanilla sugar (recipe follows).
Procedure for the Vanilla Bean Sugar
- Vanilla sugar is the perfect way to use up scraped vanilla pods that you’ve used in other recipes like crème brûlée. Save the pods in a baggie, and then decant the sugar into a bowl. Use your fingers, and get some of the sugar into the crack in the split vanilla bean; then scrub with the sugar as though you were scouring a pan with salt. You won’t believe how much vanilla is still left inside, and it is more than enough to make vanilla sugar for these beignets.
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