In France, Pets de Nonnes (“nuns’ farts”) these are small deep-fried fritters, or doughnuts if you wish. They are made throughout France.
They are made from choux pastry that has been made with milk instead of water. Small pieces of the dough is fried, drained, and sprinkled with icing sugar.
Some speculate that the term comes from the small amount of noise the doughnuts make while frying.
An alternative explanation is that they were originally called “paix de nonnes” (the peace of the nuns) as, the story goes, the dessert was served to celebrate the settlement of a conflict between two religious camps. As apocryphal as that story might be, wags none-the-less transformed the name into “pets de nonnes/”
Another explanation goes that a nun farted in a kitchen, causing another nun to laugh so hard she dropped a teaspoonful of choux pastry in hot oil, that it tasted good, and that that was served up as the dessert either on the occasion above or another.
In any event, all stories are quite probably apocryphal, many having in common the theme of a dish being invented in the kitchen by an accident.
A dessert with a similarly scurrilous name is made in Québec and in Acadia, called “Pets de soeur” (soeur also means “nun.”) There, though, the “t” at the end of “pets” is often pronounced, unlike in French French.
These versions are made instead from left-over pie dough that is rolled out, buttered, sprinkled with brown sugar, rolled up log shaped, and baked until golden brown, then cut in rounds to expose the pinwheel design inside.
Some people sprinkle cinnamon on with the brown sugar as well.
Instead of pie dough, Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough is often used.
Some people use jam instead and still call it the same dessert.
Politer names are Beignet de vent, Soupir de nonne (doughnut of wind, sigh of a nun.)
In Acadia, other words used for the dessert include Bourriques de soeurs, Bourriques de viarges , Bourriques de veilles, Hirondells, Rondelles, and Rosettes.