This monkey bread uses holiday leftovers to add a cranberry sauce and cream cheese twist perfect for waking up to during holiday mornings.
During the holiday season I’m always attracted to three different types of meals: breakfast, dessert, and boozy drinks. So my next three posts will reflect those seasonal obsessions. Breakfast because it’s the time of year that family have off and can actually sit together and eat in the morning. Dessert because of all the holiday re-mixes involving peppermint. And drinks because there are some decadent seasonal beverages that are, at any other time of the year, just too much.
So first comes breakfast. Growing up the holiday breakfast of choice was quick and easy cinnamon rolls. Not the complex, yeast rising, kneading, waiting, all the way from scratch kind (but those are awesome too). All you do is buy canned refrigerated flaky biscuits, dip them in butter, dip them in cinnamon and sugar, and then put them in a bundt pan and bake. They taste so good that it’s almost a crime they’re so easy. But I decided to change it up some and give it a more specific holiday twist: cranberry sauce and cream cheese.
Cranberry and Cream Cheese Monkey Bread
Every year I try new cranberry sauce recipes. This year I tried two. The first one I made, a Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce, is from Averie Cooks. It attracted me because it was so different. Wine? Blueberries? A ton of cinnamon? Sold! It is delicious. The cabernet reduces beautifully and complements the cranberries and blueberries to a tee. I immediately began to imagine it stuffed in pastries, oozing out of a baked brie, or spreading it on top of a hardy 9-grain cranberry bread.
However, even though it tasted a-m-a-z-i-n-g, I still wanted a more traditional flavor profile to go with the Thanksgiving dinner. So the second one I made was an Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce from Gimme Some Oven. And it also tasted amazing. The bourbon added some vanilla undertones that really brought the flavor to the next level.
This meant that I had a lot of cranberry sauce leftovers, especially the Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce, since the other one was used in the dinner and on turkey sandwiches for two weeks. And this is how I came up with Cranberry and Cream Cheese Monkey Bread. As usual, when I’m trying to get rid of leftovers I end up creating really tasty food.
- This recipe calls for 2 (16 ounce) cans of flaky refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury). Each can has 8 biscuits which you cut in half, making 32 pieces. I had a hard time folding the biscuit dough around the filling in the beginning. The first three, I got cranberry sauce all over the outside. What works best is using a pull and pinch method. Pull the dough in three different directions, stretching it. Put the cream cheese and cranberry filling in the middle and then pull the three ends together, pinching it. Once all the cracks are pinched together, you can roll the ball around in your hand to smooth out the creases.
- The original cooking time was 15 minutes covered in foil and 15 minutes uncovered. I took it out of the oven, turned it upside-down, lifted the pan. And ta-da it looked wonderful.
- But….looks can be deceiving. All the inner layers were still raw dough. So I kept putting it back in, taking it back out (thinking it was done), and realizing it still wasn’t cooked.
- My coffee was cooling and I was getting impatient. I finally took them out and placed them on a baking sheet, cooking them for about 5 minutes until the dough was a crispy golden-brown color. The second time I made these I adjusted the cooking time for 30 minutes covered with foil and 30 minutes uncovered and that worked perfectly. But if they aren’t as crisp as you would like them, I suggest moving them to the baking sheets.
- The assembly part is what takes the longest. Put another family member who is up early to work helping you and it will go faster.
Cranberry and Cream Cheese Monkey Bread
- 2 16 ounce flaky refrigerated biscuit dough
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- Cranberry sauce jelly, jam, or marmalade of choice ( I used a Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce from Averie Cooks)
Preheat oven to 350˚F (175˚C) and grease a Bundt pan.
Cut the biscuits in half and cube the cream cheese into 32 pieces. Flatten each biscuit and place one cube of cream cheese and a teaspoon of the cranberry sauce or jelly that you are using in the middle. Fold the biscuit dough around the filling and set aside. Repeat. I found the pulling and pinching method works the best (pull the dough in three directions, pull up, pinch them together, and then smooth out).
Melt the butter and mix the sugar and the cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip the balls of dough in the butter and then in the sugar and cinnamon. Place in a Bundt pan, layering the balls of dough with walnuts. Pour any excess butter over the dough and sprinkle the rest of the sugar and cinnamon on top. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and turn upside down onto a plate to cool for 10 minutes before lifting off the pan. Serve warm.
I had some difficulty getting the inner layers cooked. I've adjusted the cooking times and it worked perfectly. But if you want it crispier, place the softer portions face-up on a baking sheet and cook for five minutes, or until golden and crisp.