Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Orange Vanilla Monkey Bread

 Every year, my family has a huge brunch on Easter morning, so I'm always searching for fun and different brunch recipes during the weeks leading up to it. Most of the time, I'll find savory recipes likes casseroles or quiches. But everyone knows that brunch also has its SWEET side, such as French Toast Casserole, and Cinnamon Buns. So this time, I opted to go for something sweet!
 This is Ree Drummond's recipe and it's really delicious. It's a simple twist on your regular Monkey Bread. Basically, instead of tossing biscuits with sugar and cinnamon, you toss them with sugar and fresh orange zest. Doesn't that sound bright and fresh and brunchy? (yes brunchy is a word. I've just decided.) It's pretty brilliant, as far as I'm concerned. The fresh orange flavor is SO bright, and the vanilla sort of smooths it all out. It's a definite keeper! And it's easy too! It makes me think "what other Monkey Bread variations can we do?" I'll be sure to let you know if I come up with any! In the meantime, make this the next time you have friends over for brunch. I promise it'll be a hit!

3 cans (7.5 oz each) buttermilk biscuits, cold 
1 cup sugar 
2 whole oranges, zested 
1 dash Salt 
2 sticks salted butter 
3/4 cups brown sugar 
1 tbs vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
First, make sure all the biscuit cans are very cold. Open all the cans of biscuits and cut the biscuits into quarters. Fill a large ziploc bag with the granulated sugar, the orange zest, and the dash of salt. Seal the bag and shake it around until the zest and the sugar are totally combined. Add the biscuit pieces to the bag, seal it and shake/toss it around until all the biscuit pieces are coated in the orange sugar. Pour the pieces and sugar into a bundt or tube pan and set it aside. 
 In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the brown sugar and vanilla until just barely combined. Pour the mixture all over the biscuit pieces, scraping the pan to get all the butter/brown sugar out of there. Let it settle for a second, then place the pan in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the biscuits are golden brown. Then remove the pan from the oven and set it on a rack. Let the pan sit for at least 10 minutes (but no more than 15), then turn the cake out of the pan onto a cake plate. 
Note: When it first comes out of the pan, the melted sugar/caramel will be a little on the hot side. Wait a few minutes after turning it out before serving.
Yes, I know there's quite a bit of sugar. Even with my insatiable sweet tooth, it was close to pushing my sweetness limits. I think, perhaps, next time I'll reduce the amount of white sugar to a half cup. But be sure to still toss the sugar with the orange zest. It's turns it into orange sugar, which will flavor the whole thing. You can add a bit of orange extract, if you like, but the fresh orange zest is MUCH better. For a stronger vanilla flavor, you can also scrape the insides of a vanilla bean into the brown sugar/butter mixture.

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