Baking inspiration comes at an all-time high during the winter season. Because of the holidays, it just feels like anything and everything I make in the kitchen needs to come out with some sort of wintery, Christmas-y flair. I already took a shot at some peppermint brownies (which were divine), so I wanted to make something with a different holiday flavor. And because I like to try new things, and naturally make my life that much more difficult, I wanted to approach a recipe I’ve never made before with my own twist.
Thus, gingerbread monkey bread was born! Today is National Gingerbread House Day, and I couldn’t just let those gingerbread cookie pieces sit out and get stale. I decorated one for the photo op, and then the cookies were fair game.
Despite actually never eating monkey bread before, it’s one of my mom’s favorite desserts, which made trying this recipe that much more meaningful. And though I wanted it to turn out nice and feel homemade, I didn’t want to mess it up by making my own dough (maybe with some practice I’ll try it out). So instead, I used plain store-bought biscuit dough, which worked perfectly (and definitely boosted my ego when it turned out well).
But to make it my own, I finely ground up the leftover gingerbread cookies and mixed that into the cinnamon sugar for the dough. Pro tip: If you’re going to attempt this recipe, make sure you have plenty of bowls readily available for all the dipping, dunking, and mixing.
You can find some great mixing bowls here.
I was pretty nervous about the dough expanding and overflowing in the oven, so for good measure, I left a good inch on the top of the pan. The dough balls coated in butter and the gingerbread sugar mixture get plopped into a large bundt cake pan in layers. And once it’s cooked, letting it cool is crucial so that it doesn’t fall apart when the pan is flipped.
Most of the time, I’d see monkey bread with just the plain, butter and sugar glaze dripping down the sides. But of course, I could not let my monkey bread be plain and normal. Thanks to a jar of vanilla icing, a microwave, and some leftover gingerbread cookies, I made sure that the monkey bread got the glam it deserved. Once the icing is drizzled on, roughly crush some of the leftover gingerbread and sprinkle it on top.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Melt 1/2 cup of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of white sugar with 2 Tbsp of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of finely ground gingerbread cookies.
- Open four packages of plain pre-made biscuits, and cut each biscuit piece into quarters.
- Roll each quarter into a ball, lightly roll in melted butter, and coat in the cinnamon sugar gingerbread mixture.
- Repeat that step, placing each coated ball in a large greased bundt pan in even layers.
- Leave about an inch of space at the top of the pan. In any leftover butter, add some of the sugar mixture until it’s slightly thick — pour that mixture into the pan, coating the whole thing. Bake it for 40-45 minutes. You might need to cover the monkey bread with foil during baking if it gets too brown.
- Once it’s fully baked, leave it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then, turn the monkey bread out onto a plate or cake stand.
- Melt one container of vanilla frosting in the microwave for about 45 seconds. Drizzle the frosting over the top of the monkey bread, letting it drip down the sides.
- Roughly crush some more gingerbread cookies and sprinkle it on the top of the monkey bread. Serve warm, share with friends (or not), and enjoy!
Just in case you need more ideas for your gingerbread…