I have always loved monkey bread (or pull apart bread). I can remember my Grandma making it when I was a kid. I would walk into her kitchen and was immediately greeted by the aroma of sweet caramel rolls, anticipating devouring the sticky bread with my hands. Grandma's monkey bread seemed like the ultimate, but since she has passed away and I didn't have the recipe I came up with my own version last year. It was just as amazing, and even better it was individually portions as I made mini monkey breads. I was thinking about how delicious monkey bread was last Friday and I decided to make it again this weekend. However, I thought why not include bananas? After all, monkeys eat bananas and it is "monkey" bread. Plus it just sounded good. Bananas and caramel are a match made in heaven!
I decided to swap out the pecans for cashews as well, why not?! It was all sounding quite delicious and I could not wait for the finished product! So I got to work and made a slightly sweet dough enhanced with coconut oil and milk as well as the banana. It kneaded into a beautiful silky dough, perfect for shaping.
I rolled it in cinnamon sugar, placed it in muffin tins for individual portions, and spooned some gooey maple caramel I had made over them. The hardest part was waiting for the rolls to rise and bake...but it was so worth it! They smelled heavenly like the best sweet caramel rolls as they emerged from the oven! I didn't have to wait long to try them because they are best while still warm and gooey! They were heavenly...soft sweet banana dough with gooey cinnamon laced caramel and crunchy toasty cashews! This was honestly the best monkey bread I have ever enjoyed! I think my Grandma would be proud were she still alive to sample my bread. I have a feeling you would also love it, so I have included the recipe should you wish to try some! It is way better than the monkey bread most people make with refrigerated bread dough and worth the effort, trust me!
Mini Banana Cashew Monkey Bread
Makes about 16 rolls
1 packet rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup coconut milk or almond milk
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple sugar
2 pureed ripe bananas
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 roasted cashews
1/4 cup maple sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup maple sugar
10 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1 Tbsp syrup and water. Let sit 5 minutes, until yeast is foamy, then add coconut milk, maple sugar, bananas, 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 cashews 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, syrup, 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!