TIP: Beignets do not store well. Store the vanilla bean honey in a lidded jar at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
a deep-fry thermometer
a deep-fry thermometer
Vanilla Bean Honey:
1 vanilla bean
1 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup warm water (100°F to 110°F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
Nonstick cooking spray, for the bowl
Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup powdered sugar, for dusting
For the vanilla bean honey: Using a sharp knife, slice down the center of the vanilla bean pod. Gently open the pod, and use the back of your knife to scrape the seeds out.
In a small saucepan, combine the honey with the scraped vanilla seeds. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has thinned out, about 5 minutes. Use a fine-mesh sieve to strain the honey from the pan into a jar, and set aside.
For the cinnamon sugar: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
For the beignets: In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the yeast mixture. Allow that to mix until combined, about 10 seconds, then add in the milk, butter, vanilla extract, and egg. Turn the mixer to medium speed and allow the dough to mix until smooth and combined, about 5 minutes.
Spray a medium bowl with cooking spray, form the dough into a ball, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, dark area of your house until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
Fill a 5-quart stockpot about 3 inches deep with canola oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels to soak up excess grease.
Press the dough down and flip the dough out of the bowl and onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle, then use a pizza cutter to cut into 2 x 3-inch rectangles.
Carefully lower 3 to 4 beignets into the oil and allow them to fry until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and fry until golden brown on the opposite side, about 1 1/2 minutes more. Remove the beignets from the oil and place on the lined baking sheet. Using tongs, toss the beignets into the cinnamon sugar and place on a clean baking sheet. Repeat this process until all beignets are fried.
Dust the beignets with the powdered sugar and serve them warm with the vanilla bean honey.