Let me tell you about the time I tried to make monkey bread.
I’ve always wanted to make monkey bread. Always. I mean, come on, ooey gooey pull-apart bread smothered and covered in cinnamon and caramel. Umm, yes please, sign me up for that. Am I right? Yeah, I totally am.
I should mention one itty bitty detail that may not be so obvious. In addition to never having made monkey bread, I’ve never actually eaten it. I know, the horror. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. Please don’t judge me too hard. It’s not like I’ve never had pull-apart bread, because I have…but, it was the savory kind, a cheddar bacon ranch loaf, and, I bought the bread at the market. So, no homemade dough. No caramel. No cinnamon. And really, no way to mess it up.
I decided enough was enough. It was time. I needed to cross off baking and
devouring eating monkey bread from the bucket list.
I had an idea for a pecan pie monkey bread. So, I went with it. I started playing with ingredients and came up with a solid recipe.
Or, so I thought.
There’s one more minor detail I forgot to mention. You see, Matt, my brother, is a huge pecan pie fan. Why does that matter, you ask? Because, this pecan pie monkey bread was intended to be his birthday cake. He was turning 25, and I wanted to make him something less traditional. I’ve done cheesecakes, regular cakes, cookie cakes, but this year I wanted something fun. Something a little different, but still something we could put a candle in.
Alright, back to the kitchen. I made the dough the night before, I had the pecans chopped up, the caramel filling ready to go, and the bundt pan eagerly waiting. The bread went into the oven and I not so patiently waited for it to bake and brown on top. It was a long 45 minutes for me. Finallllllyyyy, it was done. All I had to do was let it cool.
The moment of truth came. I went to invert the monkey bread onto the cake plate and it came out super easily. I lifted the bundt pan up and half of the dough balls started rolling off the cake plate in a caramel pecan slide. Only half of my monkey bread had stuck together. The other half looked like cinnamon caramel donut holes sitting in a sticky pool on the counter. Ughh. The crushing disappointment.
Yeah, I’m not going to lie, I cried a little bit. I don’t know what went wrong. Did I add too much caramel? Was the homemade caramel too runny? Did I not let it bake enough? Did I not let it cool enough? Was the yeast bad? Did I just mess up my brother’s birthday? As you can see, it wasn’t a great day for me in the kitchen. But, I had to shake it off (yes, that is a T-Swift reference). It was Matt’s birthday, there
had to be needed to be some dessert.
And, that’s exactly what I did. I found a can of the Pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge and came up with the idea of making Caramel Pecan Croissants. I quickly made the caramel, chopped some more pecans, stuffed the rolls, and popped in the oven. In less than an hour, I had a dessert. And you know what, it was actually a pretty darn good tasting dessert too. These croissants are soft, flaky, buttery, and oozing with a caramel pecan filling that is equal amounts sweet and crunchy. The tops are drizzled with caramel, because who doesn’t want extra caramel, and sprinkled lightly with pecan crumbs. Sure, it wasn’t the exact dessert I had envisioned, but it definitely fulfilled the ooey gooey, doughy, caramely, pecan-y dreams I had for Matt’s birthday treat.
Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not giving up on this whole monkey bread thing. It’ll happen soon. And when it does, you’ll be the first to know.
Caramel Pecan Croissants
Yields: 8 croissants
1 (8 oz.) can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2-1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans, plus extra for topping
1 large egg, beaten
To make the caramel, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted add the brown sugar and heavy cream. Stir constantly, over medium heat, until the sugar has dissolved and no lumps remain. Allow the mixture to bubble for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla to taste.
In a small bowl combine about 1/2 of the caramel with the chopped pecans, add more caramel as needed–you’ll want it to be thick, but spreadable. Set aside.
Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Separate crescent roll dough into 8 triangles. Spoon about a teaspoon of caramel pecan filling on the wide end of the crescent triangle–use your judgment on how much you think the triangle can hold–and spread filling upwards. I wanted a lot of filling in my croissants so I spread the filling almost to the top of the dough triangle.
Roll up the croissants, starting from the wide end and ending at the opposite point. Place onto baking sheet and curve slightly into the croissant shape.Try to pinch the ends of the croissant together to keep as much of the filling inside as possible. Brush each croissant lightly with beaten egg–this will give them that nice golden brown color.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool for about 5 minutes. Heat the remaining caramel for 30 seconds or until of drizzling consistency in the microwave. Drizzle over croissants and lightly sprinkle with pecan crumbs, if desired.
*Caramel sauce slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction