Thursday, January 3, 2013

Apple Pie Praline Monkey Bread

Who doesn't love friggin' monkey bread???? And who doesn't love apple pie? And pralines??? Personally, for reasons which probably only tickle me, I like to call this "DIE, DIABETICS, DIE!!!". Surprisingly, after having a bite, I realized it really wasn't as sweet as I thought it would be. That was fine because I would have been sick of it after a few bites if it was really over-the-top with the sugary goodness.

So, I was browsing the old cybersphere looking for a nice Christmas breakfast recipe that I could make the night before. My family personally likes to eat all night long, sleep late, and then wake up to eat again. I'm not big on eggs. I don't like fritattas. I don't like omelets. And as much as I love bread pudding, I didn't have the heart to find some nice sweet cinnamon bread or croissants to soak up my bread pudding sauce overnight, so I took a shortcut, and it wasn't all bad.

When you tell people you're a trained cook/chef, they expect high quality shit out of you. Do you make your own bread? Do you bake everyday? I bet your family eats really good with you around!

I have made bread in the past, but I have to be in the mood. If you're going to go through the trouble of making your own bread; do it right. Make your own starter. Invest in really good quality ingredients. And make a lot of it. So, since that's the way I think, I don't make my own bread often. In fact, it's been years. So, my mom, sick of waiting for me to make my own bread, buys the Pllsburry frozen canned stuff. And I happen to love it. So there.

So, as I was saying, I found a strange recipe online for an apple cream cheese stuffed monkey bread. I liked the idea of the apple, but not the cream cheese. I've had stuffed french toast with the cream cheese and strawberries and it was good and all, but the idea of hot cream cheese isn't really appealing to me. Hey, I'm a NYer and I like my cream cheese cold on a hot bagel or soaking in a waterbath in the oven while I'm making cheesecake.

I eliminated the cream cheese and modified the recipe a little so that it would be like biting into a little apple pie every time you pulled off a little ball of dough. Well, I should have stuffed it with more apple, if that's the effect I wanted. The pillsbury biscuits are very doughy and buttery and flakey and they pretty much swallow up the apples you stuff in them. So, it's not like biting into a little ball of apple pie. It was more like a little ball of cinnamon and sugar with a hint of apple. I will use more apple next time.

What you need is: 3 packages of Grands biscuits. (I used Honey Butter)
                            2 apples diced up and sugared and spiced via your own apple pie preference
                            1 cup (or 2) of cinnamon sugar (just toss some cinnamon in some sugar, do you really need a measurement for that?)
                            1 stick of butter
                            1 cup of brown sugar
                            1 T of vanilla
                            2 T of good bourbon
                             Extra butter to butter the bundt pan
                             1 or 2 cups of chopped pralines or pecans (I used Trader Joes pralines and some regular pecans just to mix it up)

Isn't it Grand? Indeed, it is!

Cinnamon Sugar- Seriously, folks, you really don't need a recipe for this, and just to let you know I had to refill this bowl like 4 times. It depends how heavy handed you are with the dredging. Apparently, I was very heavy handed.

So, to start, generously butter the bundt pan. Don't skimp on this. I guess you can use a spray, but butter tastes better. I know you can see some Pam in the background of some of my pictures but I honestly didn't use it for this recipe. It was left out after I was done baking some cakes. The butter will mix with the syrup you pour in later and it will all work. Trust me. Butter the bundt and stick it in the freezer. Dump in the chopped pecans or pralines or both, and stick it back in the freezer.

At this point, chop up your apples and toss it with some sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The monkey bread I made didn't nearly have enough apples in it, so I would double up on the apple mixture next time around. It's a matter of taste, and I would like to taste more apples the next time I make this.

Ok, so now that everything is ready to go, pop open the cans, take out a biscuit and roll it out flat. I used a sheet of waxed paper to roll it out. No stickiness. No mess. No extra flour. Easy as pie.  Once that's done, dredge BOTH sides in the cinnamon sugar. That's right. You heard me correctly- BOTH sides. Then, fill it, seal it, and dredge it again. Dammit, don't hold back. I said dredge it AGAIN. How else are you going to keep them from baking into one giant ball of dough? The cinnamon sugar is what keeps them separate for that pull-apart goodness. Now, enough with the doubt and DREDGE!!

Dredge once.

Dredge the 2nd side.

Fill it.

Seal it, and then DREDGE AGAIN.

Arrange atop the pecans.
Here's a side note: Making each disk into an empanada half moon will take up most of the dough and you won't have a whole lot of  "balls" to pull apart. It is also very time consuming. After I had a nice layer of empanadas on top of the pecans, I switched over to making little balls. It's the same method, but I either cut them in half or quarters. It's your choice. The filling and sealing and RE-DREDGING is all still the same. Fill up the pan as much as you can. Try to keep the levels even but don't go nuts. The dough will bake and fill in any huge spaces. Don't stress about it. Also, you'll want some nooks and crannies for the syrup to dribble into.

Half-disk method

I could have stuffed it with more apples.

Roll it like a snausage.

Fill up the pan.
The syrup. Ok, so I completely forgot to take some shots of this part. When I make another one, I'll fill in more pictures. Take the stick of butter and the cup of brown sugar and melt it together until it start to bubble. Take it off the heat. Let it cool slightly, and then mix in the vanilla and bourbon. If you throw those aromatic flavors into the hot syrup most of it will dissipate and you won't get any flavor. That's why you let the syrup cool.

Place the finished bundt on TOP of a baking sheet and then carefully pour your syrup into the bundt pan. SLOWLY! Let it sink to the bottom. Let it fill in any gaps. Slow. Careful. It will bubble up and spill over when it's baking so protect your baking pan if you're worried about that kind of thing. Bake in the middle rack at 350. Check to make sure the baking sheet is catching the overflow of syrup. That will save you a tone of time cleaning your oven later on.


While all the sugar dredging and the apple filling and the syrup makes you think this will be a toothache in a bundt pan, believe me when I tell you that it isn't. The dough itself is not sweet and there wasn't enough apple in there to really go- "Oh hey, there's like an apple pie party going on in here!" No party, but it was delish. The syrup was sweet, but only on the outside. And all though monkey bread is meant to be pulled apart, my family and I sliced that sucker up to be fair....and because the idea of grubby fingers touching sticky bread didn't appeal to anyone. None the less, it was delish!!!