- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2012

It may look like a doughnut. It may be filled or glazed like a doughnut. It may even be cooked like a doughnut. But don’t call it a doughnut.

It’s a beignet. And it’s one of New Orleans’ two iconic sweets (the other being the party-loving king cake). With Mardi Gras approaching, it’s a perfect time to get to know beignets.

Truth is, beignets are a form of doughnut or fried dough. They originated in France, where the term is used to describe a wide variety of fried treats filled with fruit or jam. In New Orleans, they traditionally are served with a cup of coffee and chicory au lait.

To celebrate Mardi Gras, we’re offering our take on the beignet, a praline beignet with cafe au lait icing. And of course, you also could add the traditional showering of powdered sugar.

PRALINE BEIGNETS WITH CAFE AU LAIT ICING

Start to finish: 2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 24

For the beignets:

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon instant yeast

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

3½ to 4 cups bread flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

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