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The city of New Orleans certainly knows how to throw a party and this Tuesday they’re throwing the biggest party of them all. Mardi Gras, otherwise known as Fat Tuesday is almost here and even though I don’t live in New Orleans anymore, my heart will always be there. So, in order to bring a tiny bit of New Orleans flavor and a few fond memories into my own home, I decided to celebrate Mardi Gras by making a luscious, gooey and sweet King Cake Monkey Bread for my family.
The king cake is a tradition in New Orleans. Originally, king cakes were simply a ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today, you can find these rich, danish pastries in most supermarkets and bakeries and they are often filled with sweet fruit or cream cheese. If you’re a fan of a simpler cake, you can also find them without any filling at all, but they are always topped with a sweet sugary glaze and sprinkled with the colors of Mardi Gras; purple, green and gold.
I have wonderful memories growing up in New Orleans. My family had a home a few blocks off historic St. Charles Avenue where many of the parades would pass. We would open our home to friends and family who would visit and gladly use our driveway to park their cars and walk the few blocks to the parade route. Our home was a base of sorts where there was always a big spread of food out on the table, a bathroom (which was a necessity) and a place where you could come back to, put up your feet and enjoy a beer while you took a break from the parades.
I remember Mardi Gras day for us would begin bright and early. Friends and family would begin walking down to St. Charles Avenue at around 7:00 in the morning to see Pete Fountain’s Half Fast Marching Club. Pete and his crew would march along the parade route playing their wonderful blend of traditional New Orleans jazz and hand out paper flowers to all the ladies, for a kiss of course. Soon after, the krewe of Zulu would march, followed by the krewe of Rex and finally, the truck parade. The truck parade consisted of hundreds of 18-wheeler trucks, all decorated in a different theme, carrying riders who throw beads, doubloons and other trinkets to the parade goers. The parades would last until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon and we would all head back to the house, have a little King Cake and rest up a bit before the night parades. A full day of fun and one we always hated to see come to an end.
When my family and I moved to Houston, my kids, who were young at the time, couldn’t believe Mardi Gras wasn’t celebrated here. In fact, they were crushed to know they still had to go to school on Mardi Gras day. But, as true New Orleanians, we always manage to have King Cake or some variation of King Cake on Mardi Gras Day. I chose to celebrate Mardi Gras with a King Cake version of monkey bread this year. If you haven’t ever tried monkey bread, you’re in for a treat. I’m not exactly sure why they call it monkey bread other than maybe because you pull off pieces of the dough and eat it with your hands. For whatever reason, it’s so good!
For this recipe, you’ll need a greased bundt pan and four packages of refrigerator biscuits.
Cut each biscuit into quarters.
Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Dip each ball into melted butter and roll it in a sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Place each ball in a greased bundt pan.
Continue to add the balls of dough to the pan, layering as you go.
Pour a layer of melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon over the top.
Bake the monkey bread in the oven for about 30 minutes. Let it cool 2-3 minutes in the pan then carefully invert onto a plate or cake stand.
Drizzle a lovely glaze over the top and sprinkle with colored sugar.
King Cake Monkey Bread
- 4 tubes refrigerator biscuits (use the regular biscuits not flaky)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- colored sugar for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and generously butter a bundt pan.
- Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Melt the stick of butter in another bowl. Set aside.
- Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and dip each piece in the butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Place in the prepared bundt pan. Continue layering all the balls of dough.
- In another small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Stir in the melted butter and pour over the top of the balls of dough in the pan.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Carefully invert onto a plate or cake stand.
- Prepare the glaze by whisking together the confectioners sugar and the milk. Whisk until lumps are gone. Drizzle over the warm monkey bread and sprinkle the top with colored sugar if you'd like.
- Serve immediately.