Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mini Maple Pecan Monkey Breads

When I was a child, one of my favorite sweet treats that my Grandma made was monkey bread, or pull apart bread.  I was always happy when I walked into her kitchen and was greeted by the ring of sweet caramelly balls of soft yeast bread dotted with toasted nuts.  It was like a giant ball of caramel rolls!  I could never resist it!  It was delicious warm, but I always found myself going back to sneak pieces of it, even though Grandma would tell me I would get a tummy ache if I had too many sweets.  That never happened though luckilly.  Sad to say I haven't had any in at least 10 years, since my Grandma was not well enough to make it and is no longer with us.  I have never attempted to make it on my own, until this weekend! 

I thought it would be the perfect bread to have for Easter, since I always remember having some sort of caramel roll or cinnamon roll to accompany Easter brunch growing up.  I decided that I needed to come up with my own recipe for monkey bread however, since I am not a fan of pre-made bread doughs or loading things up with pounds of butter.  I know Grandma used Rhodes bread dough, but I am a home made bread kind of girl. 

So I used my sweet roll dough recipe for the base and got to work.  I decided that I wanted my monkey bread to taste like a cross between a cinnamon roll and regular monkey bread so I added a bit of extra cinnamon.  Cassia cinnamon, because it is the most fragrant and delicious with no comparison to other types!  I also wanted my bread to have the wonderful presence of maple, so I used maple sugar in place of the brown sugar, as well as maple extract.  I used Earth Balance in place of the usual butter for the caramel, as I wanted to keep these vegan.  Last, I added plenty of pecans, because I love them with maple and cinnamon! 

I could have simply baked my monkey bread in a round bundt or tube pan, but I wanted to be able to share them with others, since I had made a double batch.  So I made mini monkey breads in muffin tins!  The perfect size for one, and the perfect size to share!  They smelled so wonderful as they were baking, filling my kitchen with the aroma of maple cinnamon rolls!  When they were finished baking and just cool enough to try I dove into one...and it was wonderful!  Soft and light dough with the aroma of cinnamon and sweetness of gooey maple caramel and toasty crunchy nuts! 

Heavenly, and even better than Grandma's monkey bread I might add.  I think Grandma would be proud if she were here today to try some!  I left them on the counter to cool and a couple hours later I noticed there were 3 missing.  My Mom had snuck a few, and if she goes back for seconds on anything you know it is really good!  I would have to agree with her!  They were perfect for Easter, but I would make them for brunch any time of the year!  Here is the recipe if you would wish to try some for yourself!

Mini Maple Pecan Monkey Breads
Makes about 16 rolls

1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp maple extract
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups organic bread Flour
1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 cup toasted pecans

1/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup maple sugar
10 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
1 Tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 Tbsp agave nectar and water.  Let sit 5 minutes, until yeast is foamy, then add coconut milk, maple sugar, coconut oil, maple extract, vanilla, and sea salt.  Mix well, then add the flour 1 cup at a time until dough is not sticky.  Place dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm area to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in bulk.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tin, and a 6 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray.   Drop about 6 pecans into the bottom of each hole.  When dough has risen, punch it down, and divide into 16 pieces, and cut each into quarters. Combine 1/4 cup maple sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a large ziplock bag.  Place half dough balls in bag, zip up, and shake in bag to coat. Remove from bag and repeat with remaining balls.  Place 4 dough balls into each muffin tin hole. In small bowl, for topping, mix together maple sugar, butter, agave nectar, vanilla, maple and sea salt.  Whisk until well combined and sugar is dissolved.   Pour  about 1 Tbsp over the dough pieces in each muffin hole. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise.  Let rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 35-45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack set at the middle position.  Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and done in the center (keep a close watch as they brown quickly, and if they are brown after only 10 minutes, cover with foil and continue to bake until done).  Remove from oven and let cool slightly, about a minute, then invert onto foil sprayed with non-stick spray.  Serve warm while caramel is still gooey! 


  1. That looks wonderful. I have started to really love monkey bread. I love that you used maple.

  2. Wow these look amazing! I love how they're mini too. Love monkey bread!

  3. These look so delicious! I'd definitely lick that sauce off my fingers until it's all gone.

  4. Wow, these look outstanding! I'm a sucker for any sort of gooey topping...mmmmmm.

  5. Great idea to use the muffin tins and I love that they're vegan!

  6. We love monkey bread and this is a great new recipe for it. I just had breakfast and looking at your photos makes me hungry all over again!

  7. mmm..what a lovely desert, or breakfast or after midnight snack LOL! Wonderful!!!

  8. Absolutely adorable and amazing breakfast for kids or adults:)

  9. They look amazing and I'm sure Grandma would love them.

  10. I love the idea of mini monkey bread. This was a special treat breakfast my mom used to make when I was little. We always had it in a big pan though. They look delicious!

  11. Oh these look amazing! I left a blog award for you over at

  12. That's so funny: monkey bread is a wonderful blast from my childhood past as well. I think that it just tastes so sweet and good and, because it's pull-apart, it defines 'interactive dessert'.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the delicious recipe - I love that you went all the way and used yeast!

    Fantastic job!! Meagan

  13. Oooh I love ANYTHING with the word "monkey" in it! These look so yummy!!!

  14. These look totally tasty! Just like Sneaky Vegas said, "I love anything with the word monkey in it!" I've got to agree! Sweet freedom!!

  15. Wow, completely from scratch, I must admit, I pop open rolls for this. I'm sure if this happens with the homemade dough, but the canned stuff dries out in a day.
    So so when I have leftovers, I make it into monkey bread pudding.