When I first saw the rosemary garlic monkey bread ($4.99) on a recent Trader Joe's trip, I knew I had to try it. I've never really had monkey bread before, as the few times I've encountered it, it's always been sweet and I was usually in the mood for savory. That's solved with this monkey bread since the main flavors come from rosemary, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, so I was pretty excited about this.
Trader Joe's promoted the convenience of this monkey bread, saying that you would be able to have freshly baked bread really quickly at home. It may not take a lot of time to bake in the oven, but you have to let the dough rise first. I followed the instructions on the box which said to leave it on the counter for an hour, but ended up leaving it there for closer to 2 hours because I was doing other things and baking other parts of dinner. That turned out to be a good idea because apparently the box instructions are for the summer. On their site (which I read post-baking), TJ's mentions that you should really let it rise for 2 to 3 hours. At least I ended up doing that by accident, but this bread isn't seeming so quick and convenient anymore...
Once I was ready to pop the bread into the oven, I faced another issue. The directions said to remove the container from the plastic wrap before letting it rise, and then to put it on a baking sheet in the oven. The bread was in a plastic bowl. Was I supposed to take it out of the plastic? Bake it in the plastic? Would the plastic melt? Did it need the plastic to brown properly? Why wasn't Trader Joe's giving me clearer instructions on what to do? In the end, I stuck it in the oven in the plastic since it didn't say to take it out, and just figured I would get a refund if the plastic melted into the bread. That wouldn't be my fault if their instructions left out a crucial step. I did some online reading after I stuck it in the oven, and it seemed like people had done both with no adverse consequences, so crisis averted. But I wish those instructions were clearer.
After baking for 35 minutes, I let the bread cool for a few minutes and then flipped it onto a plate. I haven't really paid a lot of attention to monkey bread before, but I always thought they were supposed to be soft, pull apart rolls, like in the picture on the box. This kind of looked like a cake.
I flipped it right side up and it still didn't look very much like pull apart rolls. Where were the roll separations? Do you just tear at it and hope you get a full piece of bread? Was it not really meant to be any specific size? My first real experience with monkey bread was getting kind of confusing. We pulled it apart and got a few pieces that seemed like the right size, but after a while, just started tearing off random sized pieces.
So, how was the bread itself? Would we get it again? Here are some pros and cons to the rosemary garlic monkey bread.
1. Really cheesy. Love chewy cheesy bread.
2. Tons of rosemary flavor, and as I mentioned, I love rosemary.
3. Rolls were kind of dense and chewy. I like that texture. But I'm gathering that might not necessarily be what monkey bread is supposed to be, from other people's reviews?
The not so good/needs improvement:
1. We didn't taste any garlic. Just rosemary and cheese.
2. It would be better if you could take out smaller portions of bread to bake. The only way to bake this monkey bread (from the instructions and how it's packaged) is to do the entire thing - all 10 servings - at once. It probably goes without saying that we ate too much, and if we had been able to portion it out and only bake a smaller amount, that would have been better.
3. The instructions on the box kind of suck.
4. It's not really that cheap at $5 per box, but what bread is these days?
5. Is it really monkey bread?
Taking into account the good and the bad, buy again? Maybe. The bread itself tasted good, and the texture was nice and chewy. Whether or not it was "real" monkey bread wasn't really an issue for us. But I can't see us getting this that often due to the size, the heaviness, and the cost. Tasty, but impractical for us as a regular buy.