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Beignets and St. Lucian Cocoa Tea

Beignets and St. Lucian Cocoa Tea
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
15 mins
Prep Time:
1 hr

Chef notes

This recipe is simple, fun and yummy. The beignets are beautifully sweet, and the spiced cocoa tea is a perfect compliment. It's great way to start the day.

Technique tip: Place the dough close to a warm area to speed up proofing. Once rolled into squares, the beignets can be frozen and stored for up to 2 weeks. When you're ready to make more, just pull them out of the freezer, allow them to proof and fry before serving.


St. Lucian cocoa tea
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Demerara sugar, or to taste
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 large stick cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated cocoa stick (or 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder)
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • canola oil, for frying
  • powdered sugar, for dusting


For the St. Lucian cocoa tea:


In a small bowl or cup, dissolve cornstarch in 1 cup of water. Stir into a smooth paste.


In a medium saucepan, add the remaining 1 cup of water, milk, sugar, vanilla bean, bay leaf, cinnamon and nutmeg.


Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring for 10 minutes to fully marry the flavors.


Add the cocoa, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes.


Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, then raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.


Cook until the mixture thickens, about 6 minutes, and then strain. Season to taste with the salt.


Pour the cocoa tea into mugs and serve immediately.

For the beignets:


In a small bowl, mix the water, sugar and yeast. Cover and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the milk, egg and salt. Mix on low speed to combine until it's incorporated and foamy, about 2 minutes.


Add the bread flour to the yeast mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently combine.


Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough comes together and develops a stretchy texture.


Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until the dough is smooth, about 6 to 8 minutes.


Remove the dough from the stand mixer and place in a medium bowl.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.


In a medium pot, add the canola oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 325 F over a medium-high flame; check with an instant-read thermometer. While the oil is heating, fit a cooling rack over a sheet pan.


Flour a clean work surface and turn out the dough from the bowl. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a rectangle that's 1/3-inch thick.


Using a dough cutter or knife, cut into 2-ounce portions (about a 2-inch square; equally size dough portions to ensure uniformity of cooking).


Drop the dough squares into the oil, working in batches as to not overcrowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.


Use a slotted spoon to remove the beignets and let them drain on the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Dust with lots of powdered sugar before serving.