Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon (& nutmeg, optional)
3/4 cup milk (substitute with rice milk, soy milk, or other vegan option if you wish)
11/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Combine batter ingredients in a bowl and mix well. (Batter should be moist but not too runny. If it is too moist, add a little more flour).
In a medium saucepan, pour about 4 inches of oil and heat to 375 degrees F, using a candy thermometer. (It's imperative to use a thermometer; if oil is the right temperature, the dough will not absorb any oil. But if it's too hot, it will smoke and donuts will not cook properly.)
Drop 1 small spoonful of batter at time into the hot oil. Deep fry just three beignets at a time, and keep checking the thermometer and adjusting the heat as needed.
Fry donuts for 1 minute or until they rise up and float. Then gently flip with a slotted spoon and fry other side until brown, about another minute.
Remove from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Depending on your preference, either heat up chocolate sauce or jam briefly in a pot or microwave and drizzle over beignets, or serve on the side for dipping.
We often prefer to simply dust the donuts with confectioners sugar, using a sifter, or dip them in a mix of plain sugar and cinnamon, while still warm but not too hot so the sugar melts.
Sometimes, we make a 10-second glaze by mixing a couple of tablespoons of confectioners sugar with a good squeeze of lemon juice, and whisking this into a tart, gooey and sugary paste. (See slideshow photos for some ideas.)
No matter what the occasion, nor how you eat them, these sweet, memorable treats are extra special for kids limited by food allergies, and quick and fun to make, too.