Start the beignet dough the night before you plan to serve. Serve with piping hot cafe au lait made with chicory flavored Community Coffee.
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (100-115° F)
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk, undiluted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon mace
7 cups flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
Oil for deep frying
Put the warm water into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Stir until thoroughly dissolved. Let proof for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining sugar, salt, eggs, and evaporated milk and combine well. Gradually stir in 4 cups of the flour and beat until smooth and thoroughly blended.
Beat in the shortening, then add the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating after each addition until flour is completely incorporated. Knead with dough hook (or by hand) for 5 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Roll the dough out onto a floured board or marble pastry surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut dough into rectangles 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches with a sharp knife or rolling pizza cutter.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 360°F.
Fry the beignets about 3 or 4 at a time, until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Turn beignets several times using tongs while frying to make sure they cook evenly.
Place cooked beignets on a baking rack placed over a half sheet pan and keep warm in a 200°F oven until all beignets are cooked.
Serve 3 beignets per person, dusting liberally with powdered sugar, and serve warm with cafe au lait.