Our favorite kind of dessert is one that’s equal parts elegant (so you can serve it to a crowd), nostalgic (because sweets should make you feel like a kid again) and easy (duh). This babka-ish monkey bread recipe from Natasha Feldman’s new cookbook, Dinner Party Project, checks all three boxes.
The monkey bread’s base is store-bought refrigerated biscuit dough, so the recipe is very low lift. “You can obviously make a fun dough from scratch, but for me, the joy of this dessert is how easy it is,” says Feldman. “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.”
Want to get ahead? Assemble and chill the monkey bread up to a day in advance, then take it out an hour before baking and pop it in the oven before dessert. That way, you’ll be able to serve a fresh treat without too much extra work and you’ll get to smell its cinnamon splendor while you eat dinner. Win-win.
From Dinner Party Project by Natasha Feldman. Copyright © 2023 by Natasha Feldman. Reprinted by permission of Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Mini Citrus Monkey Bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
One 16-and-⅓-ounce tube refrigerated biscuit dough
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate, chopped
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9-inch-by-5-inch metal loaf pan lined with parchment paper.
2. Make the Monkey Bread: Pour the 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, transfer all the cut biscuit dough to the bag. Seal the bag and shake it.
3. Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt to the bag and shake again, vigorously.
4. Cover the bottom of the metal loaf pan with half the sugar-covered biscuit pieces and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate and ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt.
5. 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.
6. Make the Sauce: In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the light brown sugar and salt and whisk continuously, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes together, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla.
7. Pour the sauce 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 the bread together.
8. Bake until the top is golden brown and glassy and the inside is cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re unsure if it’s cooked, slide a cake tester or toothpick into the center; if it comes out clean (aside from a smear of melted chocolate), it’s done. Top immediately with the remaining ¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt.
9. 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, then use the wings of parchment paper to lift it out onto a plate. Remove the parchment and serve warm.