beignet is the French word for fritter. It therefore encompasses many sorts of batter or dough which are deep-fried. In some instances the batter wraps a piece of fruit or a sweetmeat; in others it is cooked plain and then dressed with sugar, honey, or other coating. The batter may be yeast-risen, or not. They are normally made from wheat flour, although the Provençal chichi frégi contains chickpea flour.
Some beignets are made of choux pastry (see pastry) and may be distinguished with the name beignet soufflé (because the paste puffs up considerably when cooked). These may be served sprinkled with icing sugar, or filled with jam, or with a savoury filling such as chopped ham or grated cheese. A small, round, plain one is known as a pet de nonne (‘nun’s fart’).