I first tasted sheep’s-milk ricotta cheese at the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, a delightful dairy farm in upstate New York where the milk comes from sheep (instead of cows) and the shepherds are llamas (instead of dogs). Sheep’s milk is richer, higher in calcium, and sweeter than cow’s or goat’s milk, and it makes wonderful cheese. These beignets have a wonderful crisp gold-brown crust and tender insides, like a dessert version of hush puppies.
You can use any good-quality ricotta for this recipe, or even a mild fresh goat cheese. It adds moisture and a little richness to the dough, binding the ingredients together without making it wet.–Gale Gand and Julia Moskin
Ricotta-Sweet Potato Beignets
- Combine all the ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until smooth. Roll into 1 1/2-inch balls (the size of a walnut) and set aside on a plate. Refrigerate until ready to cook. (See Note)
- Just before serving, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a deep, heavy pot fitted with a deep-frying thermometer to 365°F (185°C). Working in batches to avoid crowding the pot, fry the balls until golden brown all over, moving them around in the oil to make sure they cook and brown evenly.
- Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels or brown paper. Repeat with remaining beignets, making sure to let the oil return to 365°F (185°C) between batches. Dust the beignets with confectioners' sugar and serve warm.
Ricotta-Sweet Potato BeignetsThe dough balls can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I can’t get sheep’s milk ricotta, so I took a tip from the headnote of this recipe and used half goat cheese and half whole milk ricotta. I think it helps to have something with a bit of tang to offset the sweetness of the sweet potato. The dough, if you can call it that, was a bit more slack than I’d like. It didn’t seem to lend itself to rolling into balls. But that wasn’t a problem. I just spooned it out and dropped it onto parchment, then refrigerated. The beignets fry up very quickly and will darken too much if you don’t watch them carefully and turn them. The vigilance is worth it. The beignets are sweet and delicate. A dusting of powdered sugar is the perfect embellishment. I’m not a big dessert person, but these were a hit for me.
Originally published August 27, 2003