Beignets are a deep-fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar and are a New Orleans classic.
Place ½ C. warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast and 1 tsp. granulated sugar into the bowl. Allow the yeast to proof for approximately 5 minutes (you should see some bubbling/activity).
Add the evaporated milk, eggs, slat, and remaining granulated sugar to the bowl. Mix on the lowest speed for about a minute to combine the ingredients.
Stir the shortening into 1 C. of warm water (on the hotter side) until the shortening has completely melted. Add to the yeast mixture and mix at low speed. Add 4 C. of the flour, a little at a time, allowing it to combine with the mixture, creating a smooth dough.
Gradually add an additional 2 ½ - 3 C. flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly-oiled bowl and turn the dough to grease the entire surface.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
When you’re ready to make the beignets, turn the chilled dough out onto a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s approximately ¼” thick. Cut the rolled dough into 2 ½” squares.
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and ground cinnamon and stir until well combined. Transfer to a flour sifter.
Place 2-3” of vegetable oil into a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 360°F. Fry dough squares in small batches for 2-3 minutes per side, until the surface of the beignet is golden brown. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the fried beignet and allow it to drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with the powdered sugar mixture.
Serve as soon as the beignets are cool enough to handle.
If you're making a big batch of beignets, you can keep them warm in a 200°F oven for up to 30 minutes while you continue cooking the rest of the batch.