Chocolate Caramel Monkey Muffins

I think monkey bread was the first thing my younger brothers ever baked. They loved the gooey mess of making them as much as the caramel goodness of eating them. Truth told, when I leave the house for any amount of time, my husband makes them with my own boys. He waits until I leave, because he knows the ovens won’t be in use and he can sneak the tube of biscuits into the house. Yep, I’ve found the discarded tubes in my house. As a result I never get to eat them, which I think is part of his master plan. Here is my twist on the classic with chocolate tucked in homemade biscuits. I’ve baked them as individual Monkey Muffins to make them even more festive for a party or Sunday brunch.

Some of you may know that I’ve partnered with Gold Medal Flour for my bread website, breadin5.com. It was a natural fit, since we always tested our bread recipes with their flour. Gold Medal is the most widely available and it has consistent results loaf, after loaf. They have recently redesigned their flour bags and sent me a bunch of samples to take a look at. One of the new designs is for the self-rising flour. I can’t use this in my yeasted bread recipes, but I love making biscuits with it. The results are perfect every time and it means having to hunt for less ingredients.  (more…)

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Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

chocolate banana bread pudding

Almost 13 years ago I had this dessert on the menu at The Local, where I was the pastry chef. It was hands down the most popular thing we ever made. Perhaps its success is due to the blend of the comforting banana bread and decadent chocolate ganache, all baked together in a warm pudding. Then I served it with roasted banana ice cream, which takes it to new heights, but I also love it with a bittersweet chocolate ice cream. Try both and decide.

Last night I needed something to bring to an Oscar party. I love the Awards and all the pageantry that goes with it. Watching the show is an annual event with two of my closest friends and my step mother. We sit on the couch in our pajamas and critique the outfits on the red carpet. The evening is the perfect blend of our ultra-casual-comfort while we watch the over-the-top formal event. This chocolate banana bread pudding just seemed to match the contrast; elegant comfort food. (more…)

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Banana Bread

banana bread

Here in Minnesota there is a timeless tradition of going to the “cabin.” During the summer everyone heads out of the city on the weekend to fish and during the winter they still fish, but on frozen lakes. I am not originally from around here and have not quite embraced this weekend exodus, but I have a friend who is and she lures me to her cabin, not with the prospect of fishing, but with her banana bread. She always bakes the loaf in the early morning while I am sleeping; I wake to the fabulous smell of the bread and fresh coffee. It is sweet and cakey, much lighter than this fruity bread has the reputation for. After 17 years in Minnesota I still don’t have a cabin, but I am grateful for the 5-hour drive to my friend’s, just to have her banana bread.

I also keep a stash of overly ripe bananas in my freezer, so I can make it at home. The flavor of this recipe depends on the sweetness of the fruit. Those black spotted bananas your kids don’t want to eat in their lunch are perfect. If you don’t have any overly ripe ones on hand, you can roast the fruit to bring out the sweetness. Just throw your yellow bananas; the green ones won’t work, on to a cookie sheet, peels and all. Pierce the skins and bake them at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Let the bananas cool and then peel and mash. (more…)

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