* 1 1/4 cups warm milk
* 1 pkg. active dry yeast
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
* 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1 tsp. Nutmeg
* 1/8 tsp. Salt
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2 oz. Fol Epi® cheese, rind removed, finely shredded (1/2 cup)
Ingredients for the filling:
* 3 Tbsp. Butter
* 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
* 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
* 1 tsp. Nutmeg
* 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning, more to taste
* 1 egg, beaten
* 4 oz. Fol Epi® cheese, rind removed, finely shredded (1 cup)
Ingredients for the topping:
* confectioner's sugar
To make either beignet version, follow these instructions:
* In the large bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a dough hook, combine warm milk, yeast, sugar and shortening. In another large bowl, combine flour, seasoning and salt. Set aside.
* At low speed, mix the milk, yeast, sugar and shortening 1 minute. Increase to medium speed, add egg and 1/2 cup cheese. (If making the pecan beignets, add the vanilla extract at this point.) Mix until combined.
* With dough hook running, add flour mixture, one cup at a time. Continue mixing until dough forms a mass on the dough hook, about 90 seconds.
* Coat a large bowl with a thin layer of oil. Remove dough and form a smooth ball. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel and leave in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Make the filling for your beignets:
* In a medium, non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add chopped pecans and stir to coat. Add brown sugar, remaining nutmeg and Cajun seasoning. Continue to stir until sugar thickens a bit and caramelizes, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool pecans on waxed paper.
* In a deep fryer or large, deep frying pan, preheat at least 4” of vegetable oil to 360°F.
* Divide dough into quarters. Working on a 20” square of parchment or waxed paper dusted with flour, roll out 1/4 of the dough into a 12” x 8” rectangle. With a butter knife or toothpick, lightly divide the dough sheet into 12 2” squares (4 rows of 3). Place a heaping tsp. of filling mixture (either pecans or sausage/mushroom) in the center of each square. Top with a heaping tsp. of Fol Epi Cheese.
* Using a pastry brush, lightly coat visible dough sections between the filling with the second beaten egg. Place the second sheet of dough on top of the first and gently press together to form seams around the filling, ravioli style. Cut evenly around the filling, forming 2”x2” filled squares. Set aside and repeat process with remaining dough, filling and cheese.
* Fry beignets, two at a time, in the hot oil. Turn when pastry turns a rich, golden brown (about 1 minute per side). Drain on paper towels and serve warm. For sweet beignets, serve coated with powdered sugar; for savory beignets, sprinkle with remaining provolone before serving.)
* Leftover beignets may be frozen, and reheated in a 350°F. oven for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and warm. Combine eggs, milk, flour, mustard, sugar, thyme, salt and pepper in food processor and blend until smooth.
* Scatter bacon over onion in skillet. Pour egg mixture over. Sprinkle Fol Epi® over the top. Transfer to oven and bake until pie puffs and cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Loosen pancake from skillet. Cut into wedges and serve.