If you’ve never made monkey bread but admired it from afar, let me be the first to tell you it’s as delicious as it looks. This was my first experience with monkey bread and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Maybe I should have stuck with original and skipped the bananas, but what’s the fun in that? The bananas make it almost like a gooey caramel banana bread. But better. The doughy nuggets are easier to eat than a regular caramel roll and you feel like you’re not eating such a large portion (good luck stopping at just a few pieces though). Monkey bread may not be an American classic as of yet but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Surprisingly, I managed to squeeze a little classic cooking into this indulgent sweet breakfast bread. The base of this recipe is a basic Parker house roll recipe from “The Taste of Country Cooking” by Edna Lewis. I’m new to Lewis’s delightful Southern cooking but have enjoyed the few recipes I’ve tried so far. Her rise to cooking fame came shortly after my grandmother’s, making her part of what I consider the classic American foodies group. Paging through the recipes in her cookbook feels like taking a relaxing summertime vacation, complete with a glass of sweet tea.
This basic parker house roll recipe lends itself so well to banana caramel monkey bread, I can’t imagine making it any other way. The buttery caramel layered with sweet bananas and pecans, is irresistible. This recipe may look large but you will be surprised how quickly the doughy deliciousness disappears. Serve warm with coffee or tea for a sweet start to your day. Or serve as an after dinner treat and your day will be complete.
Note: If you don’t have time to make the dough from scratch, store-bought/packaged biscuit rolls maybe used a substitute.
Banana Caramel Monkey Bread
1 package dry active yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
4 cups sifted flour
¾ cup cinnamon sugar (see note)
1 ½ ripe bananas
½ cup toasted pecans (optional)
¾ cup unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
Dissolve the yeast in the ¼ cup lukewarm water with sugar. Place butter and salt in a large mixing bowl. Heat the milk to almost boiling and pour into the bowl containing the butter mixture. Stir until all is dissolved. When lukewarm, add the flour and stir. When halfway mixed, add the dissolved yeast. Mix well, knead the dough for about 5-8 minutes until soft and springy. Place in a buttered or oiled bowl and cover. Place bowl in a warm area and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk.
Chop the banana. Grease a 10-inch tube, bundt, or Angel Food Cake pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Punch down dough. Pull off pieces of dough and roll into balls about 1-inch in diameter. Place in a bowl or sheet pan. Melt ¼ cup butter. Brush or drizzle butter over dough balls and toss to coat. Roll each dough ball in cinnamon sugar. Place in the cake/tube pan in three layers of dough balls, sprinkling half the banana and pecans (if using) between layers.
Combine remaining ½ cup butter, brown sugar, and remaining banana in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until combined and sugar begins to dissolve. Pour over dough.
Place the cake pan on a baking sheet and bake 30-35 minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
Note: Cinnamon sugar can be made by combining one 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with 1 cup granulated sugar.
Get ready to cheat on that diet. Since it’s January, I should stick to posting healthy recipes that complement everyone’s new years resolutions. But that quickly becomes boring, doesn’t it? We just had one of the largest blizzards in history in the North East so do you want to stay home and eat vegetables or stay home and eat Double Layer Caramel Brownies? In my opinion, there’s no comparison. Brownies, especially gooey caramel ones, are the perfect comfort food for a snowy evening by the fire or watching a movie.
If there’s one recipe my grandmother, Paula Peck, is known for, it would be her brownie recipe. It’s an easy classic and one of few chocolate recipes in her book, “The Art of Fine Baking.” A few years ago, Mark Bittman, former columnist of “The New York Times” and self proclaimed Paula Peck fan, referenced her brownie recipe in “Truth is in the Fudginess.” So when I wanted to make an even more decadent version, this base recipe was the natural choice.
These crazy caramel brownies have not just one layer of caramel, but two. This really isn’t necessary and feel free to stick to one layer. The benefit of two layers is the flavor. These brownies have serious caramel flavor and are super sweet, rich, and delicious. You can still get the caramel flavor with one layer – it won’t be as intense, but it will definitely save time. Chewy chocolate with semi-sweet chocolate chunks and layers of sweet and smooth caramel make this brownie, way over the top…in a good way.
I’m sure you’ve been working hard at that diet and exercising regularly so take a break and enjoy some chocolate caramel decadence. Since they are rich, cut these brownies in small squares. You will feel just as satisfied but not as guilty. Either way, these dreamy Double Layer Caramel Brownies, are worth it.
Double Layer Caramel Brownies
½ cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line an 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment so that excess paper hangs over the edges.
Make the brownie batter and stir in the chocolate chips.
Pour 1/3 of the brownie batter in prepared baking dish. Spread evenly so that it covers the bottom of the pan. Bake 12 minutes until just barely set. Remove from oven.
While first layer bakes, make the caramel:
In a small saucepan, warm 1 cup cream, 4 tablespoons butter, and salt until the butter melts. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a heavy large saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Stir until the sugar is wet and forms a paste. Do not stir the sugar after this point. Place over medium-high heat. Allow the sugar syrup come to a boil without stirring. Boil until syrup reaches 255 degrees.
Remove syrup from heat. Slowly pour the warm cream butter mixture into the sugar syrup while whisking the sugar syrup gently. The sugar syrup will bubble up and triple in size.
Return the pan to medium-high heat. Bring the caramel come to a boil without stirring. It will be light yellow but darken to reddish-brown caramel. Remove from heat again when the caramel reaches 245-250 degrees. Whisk in the vanilla, remaining cream, and remaining butter.
Pour a think layer of caramel over brownie layer. Carefully spread. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for 5-10 minutes until caramel layer cools and sets slightly. Pour half the remaining browning mixture on top of caramel layer and carefully spread to cover. Bake 15 minutes until just set.
Add another layer of caramel. Chill until set again and pour remaining brownie batter on top. Carefully spread to cover evenly.
Bake 15-20 minutes until the top looks dry. Remove from oven. Cool and cut into small squares.
The name of this game is simple. Curries and curried dishes are everywhere and still seem to be gaining popularity. And why not? A little spice is always nice. Good curry powder packs so much flavor, it’s the a natural addition to your staple pantry spices. This curry powder makes dinner even easier because it only uses 3 ingredients – that you most likely already have in your pantry. Plus it doesn’t compromise on flavor.
Brunch has become my favorite meal. With so many options of sweet and savory breakfast and lunch foods, what’s not to like? A Mimosa or Bloody Mary doesn’t hurt either. Huevos Rancheros seems to be popping up on brunch menus all over the country. These “rancher’s eggs,” as name translates to in English, are a twist on a rural Mexican farm dish that’s both hearty and delicious.
Is eating healthier your new years resolution? Detoxing after the holidays? I’m not sure anyone actually does this but if fitness club attendance is any indication, it would seem so. I always plan on eating healthier but never actually do it. Food is just too much fun. This Arugula, Pear, and Prosciutto Flatbread with Meyer Lemon Dressing is my version of eating healthy. It’s light, simple, and of course, tasty.