Not feeling the sunshine? Make some! What could be sunnier than beignets filled with tangy sweet meyer lemon curd? Meyer lemons are in peak and if you're not already stealing them from your neighbor's backyard then Whole Foods will definitely have them (for a price).
That kills me, that here in NYC I actually have to pay for meyer lemons. Ha-rumph! In the Bay Area they are practically free.
I got the idea of this recipe from Michael Laiskonis, the world famous pastry chef at Le Bernardin. He makes teeny tiny vanilla pastry cream filled beignets that are sent out at the end of the meal with a host of other miniature delicacies (petit fours, chocolates, etc). Every time I pass the pastry kitchen I stop and beg for one. They are so good, sooo more-ish, sooooo impossible to eat just one.
My mini deep fryer ("Cuisinart CDF-100 Compact 1.1-Liter Deep Fryer, Brushed Stainless Steel" (Cuisinart)) makes beignets easy to fry up and it's one of the most useful small appliances I own. No joke. How else do you make steak frites? Or green bean tempura? Or fried calamari?
The trick to getting nice beignets is to keep the temperature of the oil a little lower than normal, around 350˚F. Otherwise the dough burns and cracks. Roll them around in the cinnamon sugar directly out of the fryer and let cool for a few minutes before piping lemon curd through a tiny incision. Lots of fun to watch cook because they puff up and spin around in the oil and – of course – even more fun to eat.
Let the sun shine in!
1/2 cup water 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon salt 1teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Meyer Lemon Curd:
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped lemon zest
3 large eggs 4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup meyer lemon juice
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
For beignet batter: combine water, butter, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add in the flour and stir constantly over medium heat until mixture comes together and has a shine. Continue to cook and stir for two minutes more.
Remove dough from heat and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add one egg at a time beating vigorously after each. The dough will separate and then come together again after every egg. The mixture should be smooth and shiny and make think ribbons.
Heat the deep fryer to 350˚F. Drop dough in carefully by the spoonful. When it is golden brown remove to a pan covered in paper towels and roll around in cinammon sugar.
Lemon Curd: prepare an ice bath for the curd in advance. In a double boiler add the lemon zest, sugar, eggs, and egg yolks and whisk. Continue to whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved add the lemon juice and continue to whisk for 5 minutes (don't stop!). The curd is done when it is thick and heavy and reaches a temperature of 160˚F.
Tranfer curd to a food processor or bowl. Pulse or whisk while adding chilled butter piece by piece. Strain curd into a bowl and place in the ice bath to chill. To stuff beignets with curd make a tiny incision into each puff. Put the lemon curd in a pastry bag (or use a makeshift plastic ziploc bag with the corner cut off) with a small pastry tip if you have it. Pipe curd in until the beignet feels heavy.