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Chocolate Monkey Bread

Yield:1 cake/loaf
Monkey bread, also known as pull-apart bread or bubble bread, is a loaf that's formed by rolling small balls of dough in a sugary coating, then layering the dough in a pan and baking. The resulting loaf is usually gooey and delicious and can be pulled apart into individual rolls. Most Monkey Bread recipes use cinnamon-sugar to coat the dough. This recipe, from the Scharffenberger cookbook Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, calls for rolling the dough in a mixture of ground-up chocolate and pecans mixed with sugar. The origin of the name Monkey Bread is unclear, some sources referenced a Monkey Puzzle Tree which the baked bread resembles in texture and others the fact that people gather around and pick pieces off like monkeys. Whatever the reason, the bread is delicious! The orginal recipe calls for making this bread entirely by hand. I've simplified the process somewhat by using my bread machine.

Monkey Bread

For the dough
1/4 C warm water
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 C whole milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C granulated sugar
4 C all-purpose flour
For the filling
3/4 C coarsely chopped pecans
4 oz. 62% semi-sweet bar chocolate (3/4 C when coarsely chopped)*
1/2 C granulated sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1. Combine the dough ingredients in your bread machine, in the order specified by the manufacturer.

2. Set the machine for the dough cycle and let it do it's thing!

3. Combine the pecans, chopped chocolate and sugar in the food processor and process until sandy in texture.

4. Grease a large bundt or tube pan well with baking spray.

5. After the dough has completed the dough cycle, remove it from the pan and knead it very gently on a lightly floured board.

6. Place the melted butter nearby and move the chocolate, nut and sugar mixture to large bowl.

7. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of a golf ball. Coat the balls in melted butter, then toss them in the sugar mixture to coat. Place the balls in the baking pan. Continue until all of the dough is layered in the pan.

8. Cover the pan and let the dough rise for one hour, until the dough is doubled in size and close to the top edge of the pan.

9. Preheat your oven to 350°F. If you have any leftover melted butter, go ahead and coat the top of the loaf with it. Uncover the loaf and bake 40-45 minutes, until done.

10. Let the bread cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Then, gently loosen the edges of the bread from the pan with your fingers and invert the bread onto a serving plate. Let the bread continue to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

Notes:

* Be sure to use bar chocolate. Chocolate chips will not grind up evenly in food processor because off their round-ish shape.

If you'd like to bake this bread in the morning but you don't want to get up super-early to do it, you can prepare the bread the night before up through layering it in the pan. Then, cover the pan and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Let the bread dough warm up to room temp for about an hour before baking.

If you're really pinched for time and don't want to make your own dough, I think that frozen bread dough could be used. It would not be as tender or sweet as the home-made dough, but it will stll taste pretty good.

Variations:

If you'd like to make a traditional cinnamon Monkey bread, replace the ground chocolate mixture with cinnamon-sugar.

For a plain orange version, add the zest of one orange to some sugar and use that for the coating mixture. Orange zest would probably also be great mixed with the chocolate coating.