Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sweets for Your Valentine

My birthday comes near Valentines Day, so I have a special fondness for the holiday. I love heart shaped cakes and cookies, red and pink and lilac...although mostly not together. Romantic movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Notting Hill where, despite the odds, the girl gets the guy in the end are never too sappy for me to watch again. Fluffy romance novels provide reading without any effort at all...and sometimes that's exactly the kind I need...hearts and flowers and an inevitable happy ending.

Life is a bit more messy. There is no inevitable happiness...you get lucky if you find relationship happiness and then you put effort into keeping it. Even with effort sometimes the happiness slips away like water down the drain.

I wish I had words of wisdom that would give the secrets to keeping it, but I don't. I am still often mystified when my Sweetie bears the brunt of my temper and yet still loves me even though cross words really hurt him. He is still amazed when I laugh at his jokes...sometimes jokes I've heard a few times before, but they still bring true laughter...how fun is that? When you have the benefit of over 30 years with the same partner and have weathered the ups and downs that all relationships seem to bring, it's time to be grateful...and I am.

If you are thinking about Valentine's Day and want to surprise your sweetie with an unusual bread then you have come to the right place.

This may not lead to wild monkey love…or it may…but rest assured, this coffee cake is a winner, especially if you like coconut and raspberry flavors.

Traditionally Monkey Bread is made with small balls or pieces of dough dipped in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar, with some nuts sometimes thrown in. It is delicious but can be super sweet if a lot of the cinnamon sugar is used. But you can monkey around with the flavors and ingredients if you want to.


I gave sweetie the option of the traditional flavors or of this version. He chose the coconut raspberry combo. It is a little more complicated (not much) and is more subtle…doesn’t hit you over the head with a blast of spice or sugar…but it is charming. The tint of pink that the coating takes on makes it just right for Valentine’s Day.

I made the dough and held it overnight but you could make it the same day if you plan on serving it in the late afternoon or in the evening. Getting all those chunks of dough dipped and then dipped in the coconut takes some time. My dough also took longer than average to rise because it is stormy here and chilly…and perhaps because I used all sour dough starter and it sometimes is slower than if I beefed it up with a little dry yeast.

If you used quick rise yeast and if your kitchen was warm and if you started at 8 am, this could be ready by lunch time.

Unlike the traditional version, this kind doesn’t have as much gooeyness to it, but it is a great flavor combo with the coconut, raspberry and almond flavors playing off the sweet yeast bread. Some people like to ice their Monkey Bread once it has cooled slightly, but I served it the way it came from the oven and everyone wanted seconds, so I think icing is delightful, but optional. If you use icing, you may want to tint it pink with some food coloring to make it even more of a Valentine delight.


Coconut Raspberry Monkey Bread
Makes 1 Bundt or coffee cake Variation on recipe from Marcy Goldman of BetterBaking.com
Dough:
1 1/3 cups warm water
4 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, melted
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-2 cups bread flour

Note: I used 1 cup sourdough starter and 1 cup warm water instead of the amount of water and instant yeast given above. I added less than 2 cups bread flour, trying to keep the dough soft and with not too much flour.

Filling:
1/2 cup melted butter
¼ cup coconut milk (I used the canned Thai style, unsweetened)
½ cup seedless raspberry jam, melted and cooled a little
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup grated coconut (I used ½ cup fresh grated and ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut)
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped

Optional Icing:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 tbsp of sugar for 2-3 minutes. Add in melted butter, remaining sugar, salt and the all purpose flour. Mix it in by hand or using a dough hook until it forms a soft mass, adding bread flour as needed to form a soft dough, not too much flour! Let rise, covered, in a warm place for 30-45 minutes until almost doubled.

2. Make coating: Put melted butter in a bowl and stir in the coconut milk. In another bowl, mix melted raspberry jam and the corn syrup. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons raspberry mixture and half the almonds into a well greased and floured Bundt pan or Monkey Bread pan. On the counter, gently deflate dough and divide into 1/2" pieces. Roll into balls. Mix the melted butter mixture with the raspberry mixture and stir well to combine. Place the coconut in a shallow bowl. Dip balls in raspberry butter mixture, then roll in coconut. Layer them in the prepared Bundt pan. Sprinkle remaining chopped almonds over the dough balls halfway through the layering. My Monkey Bread pan from King Arthur only needed two layers to use all of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes in pan then invert. Cool 20 minutes. If desired, while bread is cooling make the icing: In small bowl, combine icing ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over slightly cooled bread. Serve at once.
Verdict: I like the contrast between the tang of the sourdough bread and the sweetness and richness of the butter/raspberry/coconut/almond combination. If I did it again I might make the dough balls smaller and use more raspberry jam, pouring some straight melted raspberry jam directly over the first layer of dough balls. That would mean setting aside some raspberry jam and not adding it to the butter mixture. This might give it a bit more of the ooey-gooey factor that was missing with this recipe. Adding some mini chocolate chips could be fun, too…I mean, when is it a bad thing to add chocolate?

I’m sending this over to Susan at Wild Yeast for this weeks’ Yeastspotting event. Check it out! You might get lots of Valentines ideas.

5 comments :

dining room sets said...

I think I now know what to do this Valentine! Bake some good and yummy bread for my family.

Dharm said...

Ahh.. lovely post. The Lovely Wife doesnt laugh as much at my jokes anymore so I know how precious it is to still be able to bring out a fit of laughter especially with old jokes, heard a thousand times before! This bread looks really lovely and I love that as you said, you can monkey around with it!! Whens the Birtdhay?? Happy Birthday in advance!

tanita davis said...

*still giggling about the wild monkey love thing* (Yes, I have the sense of humor of a ten year old.)

This looks SO GOOD. Haven't had monkey bread since I was a kid, and this -- ! Yum.

Andreas said...

Coconut and raspberry sound like a fabulous combination.

And Happy Birthday to you. :)

Katie said...

What a fantastic idea! It looks and sounds fab. I love how it would allow you to pick and share the bread with a loved one. Yummy flavours pairings too :)
Have a great Birthday