Serves 6 to 8; makes 1 loaf
Total time to prepare: 1 hour 10 minutes
Monkey bread is the first recipe I ever made. In third grade, my homeroom teacher, Miss Larson, invited a bunch of students to her house for a cooking class (where I wore patterned leggings and an oversize Betty Boop T-shirt, my signature third grade look), and I distinctly remember this being the most delicious thing I had ever tasted or smelled. It was impossibly sweet, sticky and buttery. I looked high and low for the original recipe, but it got lost somewhere. So this is it (more or less) from a sense memory with an extra dollop of whimsy thrown in by way of babka-ish fillings. Yes, you can obviously make a fun dough from scratch, but for me, the joy of this dessert is how easy it is. You’re just a few stirs and snips away from childhood nostalgia! You can set this out and have everyone pull from it family-style, or you can let it cool for 10 minutes and slice it up like a babka. Up to you!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 (16⅓ ounce) tube of refrigerated biscuit dough (I like Pillsbury Original Biscuits)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (3 ounces) chopped semi-sweet chocolate
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, divided
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
To make the monkey bread
Pour the 4 tablespoons melted and cooled butter into a large resealable plastic bag. Pop the dough out of the tube and use a pair of kitchen shears to cut each biscuit into six wedges. As you cut, toss all the cut biscuit dough in the bag. Once you’re done giving the biscuits a haircut, seal up the bag and shake it.
Add 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon salt into the bag and shake again, vigorously. Cover the bottom of the metal loaf pan with half of the sugar-covered biscuit pieces and evenly sprinkle with ½ cup chopped chocolate and ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt. Add the rest of the biscuits and apply mild pressure to even out the top. (Too much pressure, and the sauce won’t be able to get in all the nooks and crannies.) If you have extra sugar left in the bag, shake it on top. (Why the heck not?)
To make the sauce
In a small skillet, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt, and whisk continuously, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Pour the saucy deliciousness evenly over the monkey bread. Tilt the pan around to make sure the sauce is fully covering the top, as this is the glue that holds your bread together. Bake until the top is golden brown and glassy and the inside is cooked through, roughly 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re unsure if it’s cooked, slide a cake tester or a toothpick into the center; if it comes out clean (aside from a smear of melted chocolate), it’s done! Top right away with the remaining ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt. Your kitchen should now smell like an old-fashioned doughnut shop. You’re welcome.
Let the monkey bread rest in the pan for 20 minutes. Slide a knife around the edges to make sure the bread isn’t adhering to the pan and then use the wings of the parchment paper to lift it out onto a plate. Remove the parchment and serve warm.
You want this friend warm from the oven, but you can still feel free to assemble up to a day in advance and store in the fridge. Take it out an hour before baking and then toss it in the oven while enjoying dinner.
Cook With Natasha
Two more recipes from The Dinner Party Project for AARP members to try:
This steak recipe is low-stress and tastes professional. Try it with either the Pistachio-Date Salsa Verde Sauce or Bistro Compound Butter.
Sometimes you just want a salad that seems fancy, and this salad seems fancy.
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