Cacio e Pepe is one of our favorite types of pasta. It’s simple yet full of flavor, thanks to a generous amount of cheese and freshly-ground black pepper. Because the deliciousness of Cacio e Pepe shouldn't be reserved for pasta, we took the same ingredients and turned it into monkey bread. To speed up prep time, we started with store-bought pizza dough, which we prefer to biscuit dough for both sweet and savory pull-apart bread. To prevent the dough from over-proofing (and puffing up too much in the oven), take it out of the refrigerator while you prep the other ingredients, but no sooner—about 15 minutes before you begin to work with it.
1 5-inch terra cotta pot, washed and dried
1½ cups (4 ounces) finely grated pecorino Romano
¾ cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan cheese
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper
1½ pounds fresh pizza dough, cut into 30 1-inch pieces and rolled into balls
Olive oil, for serving
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut out a 3-inch circle of parchment, place in the bottom of the pot, and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Cut two 8x4” rectangular strips, coat with nonstick cooking spray, and line the sides of the pot (they will overlap slightly). Place the pot on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Combine the pecorino Romano and Parmesan in a medium bowl.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling the pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour into a medium bowl; let cool slightly.
Dip balls in pepper-butter, then transfer to cheese mixture, rolling to coat, transferring them to the prepared terra cotta pot as you go. Top with remaining cheese mixture. Reserve the remaining pepper-butter mixture.
Loosely tent the pot with foil. Bake until puffed, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is deeply golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with remaining pepper-butter for dipping.
Loaf pan instructions: Line an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-in loaf pan with parchment paper. Continue as directed, checking for doneness after 35 minutes uncovered.
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