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Neighborhood coffees bring people together who otherwise just wave to each other from their cars. Sharing the three c’s – coffee, cake, and conversation – makes a neighborhood a better one. Putting faces to names and names to homes increases neighborhood awareness and safety. But really, it’s just a nice way to welcome new neighbors and to catch up with familiar ones!

Sweet, pull-apart Monkey Breads are favorites to serve at coffees for three simple reasons: they are easy to make, they serve many guests, and they taste delicious. In anticipation of a neighborhood coffee I’m helping to host in a few months, I “monkeyed” around with my Monkey Bread recipe. With so many people watching their diets these days, I opted to make mini monkey breads and substituted Splenda for sugar with great results! Assembling these little ones took no time at all and the baking time was quick, but the very best thing about these Mini Monkey Breads is that each one has more crispy-crunchy, sweet-cinnamon surface area than you’d get picking apart a regular-sized one! The results weren’t as “mini” as I thought they would be, but that didn’t stop me from devouring a whole one all by myself!

Mini Monkey Breads
Adapted from a recipe by Blue Eyed Bakers

Ingredients:
3 Cans of Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk biscuit dough
1 Cup Splenda
1 T cinnamon
3/4 Cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
1/2 Cup brown sugar
Sweetened condensed milk, optional
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts, optional
1/2 Cup dried fruit – such as raisins, chopped dates, blueberries, optional

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in each cup of your muffin tin and set tin aside.

2. Remove biscuit dough from the containers and cut each biscuit into six wedges. Roll each wedge into balls.

2. In a large reusable plastic bag or large bowl, combine Splenda and cinnamon. Stir or shake to combine.

3. Place balls into the bag and shake well until all balls are evenly coated with the cinnamon-Splenda mixture. If you are using a bowl gently toss the balls with your hands until evenly coated. Set aside.

4. In a small sauce pan, melt together butter and brown sugar over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes).

5. Place a spoonful of the butter-brown sugar mixture into each muffin cup. Take three coated dough balls and put into bottom of cup. If you are adding nuts and dried fruit, this is the time to tuck some in between the balls. Top with two or three balls and a few more nuts and fruit bits. Repeat, filling each muffin cup with remaining dough balls (and fruit and nuts).

6. Pour a spoonful of the butter-brown sugar mixture over each Mini Monkey Bread and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden, puffy, and bubbling.

7. Serve Mini Monkey Breads warm from the oven. If desired they can be topped with ribbons of sweetened condensed milk. They can also be made ahead – cover with foil and reheat in a 300 degree oven, for about 10 minutes.

Makes about 18

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I used Splenda to cut back on sugar, but you could substitute 1 cup white sugar if you prefer.

2. I added the dough balls a handful at a time into the container of cinnamon-Splenda to make sure all surface areas were well-covered. A word of caution: do not let the coated dough balls sit in the plastic bag or bowl too long or else you will have one, big, doughy mass!

3. I made three different types. In one batch I sprinkled dried blueberries and walnuts. Another batch I added chopped dates and walnuts. The third batch had just chopped walnuts. Each type was in a different colored paper liner, so I could easily tell them apart. For better flavor, toast the walnuts in the oven first for about 15 minutes.

4. I used a punch-type can opener and poured squiggles of sweetened condensed milk right out of the can onto the Mini Monkey Breads.

Enjoy!

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