After last week's cannoli debacle, I was afraid I'd lost my baking mojo. Worse, when I looked at the recipe, I thought that Rose had gone the way of those recipes that you see on Facebook that are made up of butter, cream, sugar, doughnuts, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. You know the ones--they take a bunch of decent ingredients and mix them together so the end result looks just over-poweringly sweet. Monkey bread (not what you'd call a subtle bread) stuffed with chocolate, dipped in buttered sugar, glazed with caramel sauce, and topped (if you don't mind "gilding the lily" with a second (chocolate) sauce). I thought the whole thing sounded like gilding the lily.
But, I thought, after all, the whole recipe starts with Rose's brioche dough, which has never gone awary, and has been the base of some pretty fantastic breads. And so I decided to have faith.
Working with this rich but not-too-sticky (if you've overnighted it in the refrigerator) dough always makes me happy. I will say that cutting the dough into 32 pieces, rolling each piece out, filling it with chocolate perles, then reshaping the dough and squeezing the edges together got a little tedious. About as tedious as reading that last sentence.
But eventually the job was done. I love chocolate. But just as I don't agree that bacon makes everything better, neither do I agree that chocolate makes everything better. I was unconvinced that this bread needed chocolate.
And when I put these little buttery balls in the pan and stuck them in the oven, I thought, well, that looks good enough to me. It shouldn't be any sweeter than this.
And then I dutifully proceeded to make the caramel sauce, which was definitely going to make the monkey bread sweeter, not to mention a whole lot richer.
Here's the baked monkey bread straight out of the oven. I confess that I used a one-piece angel food cake pan, instead of one with a detachable tube. My reasoning was that Woody had given me this pan, and he surely wouldn't give me anything other than a superior piece of equipment. And if he did, I could blame him if the monkey bread wasn't up to snuff.
Thanks for the nice angel food cake pan, Woody. The monkey bread fell apart slightly, but not disastrously so, and who cares anyway.
The verdict? Was this monkey bread too sweet? Too complicated? Beyond the pale? Well, not really. I'd like to try it again without the chocolate perles and the caramel sauce (and of course, not the optional chocolate sauce, which I didn't use this time). But then it would just be monkey bread (although the quality of the brioche dough would guarantee that it wouldn't be "just" anything). But the addition of chocolate didn't make it too sweet. In fact, the bittersweet nature of the dark chocolate counteracted the sweetness of the brown sugar "dunk" and the caramel. And, while it certainly didn't need the caramel, it was such a delicious caramel that it's all right with me.