Crescent Roll Upgrade Ideas - Monkey Bread Recipe

Five clever hacks for store-bought crescent rolls

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Every Thanksgiving as long as I can remember, my mom would always stash a couple of crescent roll cans in the back of the fridge "just in case." She had every intention to make fresh-from-scratch rolls, and most always succeeded, but she also had to prepare for the hungry tagalongs and family members who forgot to RSVP. Buttery, chewy, flaky crescent rolls to the rescue.

This Thanksgiving, do yourself a favor and buy a can "just in case." The classic, straight-out-of-the-package crescent roll is only the beginning, as it's golden airy crumb is the perfect blank canvas for endless renditions both sweet and savory. And who can resist the signature "pop" when you open the tube? It screams "holiday."

We've rounded up five of our favorite hacks to get your wheels turning—a few of which are ingenious ways to use your Thanksgiving leftovers. Last words of wisdom: Don't let the can linger in your fridge beyond expiration date, or it will explode and leave you with a soggy mess of regret.

Cranberry Sauce Doughnut Holes

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with canola oil to a 2-inch depth. Separate 1 can of crescent dough into 4 rectangles and press the perforations to seal. Stack 2 rectangles on top of one another and fold in half, widthwise, making a tall stack. Repeat with the remaining 2 rectangles. Using a 1- or 1½-inch round cutter, punch out holes from the crescent dough stacks. When the oil is hot (and registers 350° on a deep-fry thermometer), gently drop a few dough balls into the hot oil and cook until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet tray to let cool. Pull the doughnuts holes halfway open, spoon in some cranberry sauce and sandwich back together. Transfer to a plate and sift with powdered sugar right before serving.

Rosemary Shallot Focaccia

Preheat the oven to 375°. Separate 1 can of crescent dough into 2 squares and press the perforations to seal. Thinly slice 1 garlic clove and 1 small shallot, and pick the leaves from 3 to 4 rosemary sprigs. Brush 1 crescent square with olive oil and top with the second square, pinching the edges to seal together. Sprinkle the sliced garlic and shallot over top, drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil and season with the rosemary and flaky salt. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, then serve.

Thanksgiving Leftover Cornucopia

Preheat the oven to 375°. Wrap 6 sugar cones with tinfoil and lightly grease with oil spray. Line a sheet tray with foil, leaving a slight overhang along the short ends. Unroll 1 can of crescent dough on a cutting board and press the perforations to seal, making a large rectangle. Evenly cut 6 long strips, lengthwise. Beginning at the bottom pointy end of each cone, wrap one strip around it, slightly overlapping itself and spiraling up as you go. Seal the dough to itself at the end and place seam-side down onto the sheet tray. Chill 20 minutes, then roll the wide-end cornucopia edges back to create a rim. Bake until golden brown, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool completely, then spoon some mayonnaise and mustard into each cornucopia and fill with Thanksgiving leftovers (shredded turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, etc) to serve.

Hasselback Croque-Madame

Preheat the oven to 375°. Unroll 1 can of crescent dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and press the perforations to seal, making a large rectangle. Evenly spread 1 cup of grated Gruyère over the square, then roll lengthwise up into a log. Twist the log and bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using a pair of scissors, snip 8 slits on an angle along the twisted creases and slip in a few cheese shavings (using a peeler or a box grater), along with quartered pieces of sliced deli ham (2 to 3 slices). Return the sheet tray to the oven and bake until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes more. Meanwhile, fry an egg and when ready to serve, top the croque-madame with the fried egg and season with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chai Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 6- to 7-inch heatproof round baking dish (a Pyrex bowl works great), combine 4 tablespoons melted butter, ¼ cup packed light brown sugar, ¼ cup granulated white sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom and a generous pinch ground white pepper. Peel and slice 1 small tart-sweet apple, such as Honeycrisp, and toss with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger. Unroll 1 can of crescent dough and cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 10 pieces, yielding 20 pieces altogether. Add the dough pieces, along with the apple slices, to the butter mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until the top is browned and the edges are bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate to serve. The sauce will be a little runny, but that's a good thing.