Welcome guest author Kelli Shiroma with a review of the Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake. Stop by Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for this delicious, seasonal treat when it’s on the menu!
Located in between Fantasyland and Frontierland, close to the popular “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” ride is Big Thunder Ranch BBQ. A popular destination for families and for those with hearty appetites, Big Thunder Ranch BBQ continuously attracts crowds throughout the day with its enticing all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner menus.
However, upon my most recent visit to Big Thunder Ranch BBQ in the Spring, I had a delightful, dessert-only experience. So, if you had a light lunch and are looking to satisfy a craving for something sweet … this hidden gem might provide the perfect solution.
As Heather mentioned in her review last year of the S’mores Bake, guests can definitely dine at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ only for dessert. Thus, I followed her advice one sunny Tuesday afternoon and came to the BBQ joint after an early, light lunch. It was about 11:30 a.m. and Big Thunder Ranch BBQ was just opening for the day.
Upon arrival, I checked in and told the cheerful hostess that I just wanted dessert. Since I was there alone for my dessert experience, I was assured that I could take home any leftovers that I couldn’t finish (which was great news, being that you cannot, of course, take home any leftover BBQ items!). The hostess asked if I had an Annual Pass, which I said I did. And with that, I was immediately led to my table for one, close to the front of the stage. It was early in the day, so the Ranch was still quiet and peaceful.
Although I had seen the dessert menu before, I took some time to peruse it and asked my “ranch hand” server for some recommendations.
Prior to this “dessert only” visit, I had tasted the “Chef Cookie’s Deep Dish,” also called the “Chocolate Chip Cookie Bake” — a thick, warm, chewy, chocolate chip cookie baked deep-dish style in a large iron skillet and topped with three scoops of Dreyer’s Vanilla ice cream and drizzled with hot fudge.
For this visit to the Ranch, I debated ordering this decadent treat again, as it has quickly become one of my favorite desserts in the Disneyland park. However, the helpful “ranch hand” suggested that I try the Snickerdoodle version of the popular treat.
As noted on the menu, the “Chef Cookie’s Deep Dish” is available with a chocolate chip cookie or a “Ranch Hand Seasonal Cookie.” While the newest “Seasonal Cookie” was just introduced a few days before my visit -— a soft and chewy oatmeal raisin cookie served with vanilla ice cream -— the “ranch hand” told me the Snickerdoodle cookie was still available.
“We’ve only got a few left,” he said enthusiastically. “The Snickerdoodle’s a seasonal cookie from Halloween to the holidays, but you can order it upon request.”
The ranch hand also told me that vanilla ice cream is usually served with all the cookie bakes; however, chocolate ice cream is also available (you just need to ask for it!). Although I usually prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla, I decided to go with the ranch hand’s recommendation of the Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramel drizzle. My mouth was already watering by this point from listening to the various Cookie Bake options.
I could have chosen an individual-sized dessert from the selection toward the top of the menu, including the Ranch Hand Sundae and the Chocolate Flourless Mickey Cake. Those items seemed delicious, but after the ranch hand’s suggestion, my heart was pretty much set on the Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake, even if it was listed under the Family-Style Desserts section. Besides, I was already told that I could take my leftovers home, so why not?!
I ordered a glass of cold water —- which comes in clear, mason jars at Big Thunder Ranch —- and eagerly awaited my dessert. Knowing that each “family-style” dessert takes about 20 minutes to create, I came prepared with my laptop to work while I waited.
After about 10 minutes, my ranch hand came by to see how I was doing and assured me that the Cookie Bake would be on its way shortly. By this time, it was around 11:45 a.m., and only three tables of families were enjoying the BBQ lunch menu items.
“It’s a slower day today,” he remarked cheerfully. “At opening, it’s usually more crowded with a long line. We’re open from 11:30 a.m. from Monday thru Sunday. On weekends, we usually close at 8 p.m.; that’s when our last seating is. If it’s slow [during dinner], we close at 7 p.m. But during busy season—summer and holidays—we close at 8 p.m. and extend our hours.”
Duly noted for future reference. Also, the ranch hands recommended making reservations at the BBQ for larger parties, especially during typical lunch and dinner times.
Working made the waiting time pass quickly, and before I knew it, my Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake was in front of me.
Because the iron skillet was so hot, the Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake was served atop two linen napkins. My ranch hand also handed me a mini pitcher of warm caramel that I could use to drizzle over the cookie to my heart’s content. Being a fan of caramel -— but not wanting to completely drown the cookie -— I drizzled cautiously at first, knowing that the full pitcher would allow me to add more later if I wished.
The Snickerdoodle Cookie Bake looked just like its chocolate chip counterpart, minus the chocolate. The three lush scoops of the pearly vanilla ice cream topped the large cookie, and flecks of cinnamon adorned both the cookie and ice cream. I waited for a few minutes for the cookie to cool a bit before digging in …
… and as soon as I did, I could hear the hallelujah chorus.
Soft and chewy with a fragrant, cinnamon aroma, the Snickerdoodle cookie was about one-inch thick and had that delicious, fresh-out-of-the-oven taste … I had to be careful not to eat too quickly to avoid burning my tongue! However, the challenge was to not devour the cookie too slowly, otherwise the ice cream will soon become vanilla soup.
After taking a few slow bites to savor the cookie-and-ice-cream-combo — which complemented perfectly — I drizzled the caramel more liberally over the entire cookie. Little caramel rivers soon began to form across the dish, seeping into various cookie cracks to moisten the entire spread. Delishhhhh.
Although I am a chocoholic and loved the chocolate chip cookie typically featured in this dessert, the Snickerdoodle cookie was a nice switch up and did not disappoint. Plus, I got to taste it “off season,” which made it even more special.
After devouring about 75 percent of the monstrous dessert, I decided to take the remaining cookie home. I did finish off the ice cream. As soon as it looked like I was done, my ranch hand came by with a small plastic container for me to put the rest of my cookie in.
By the time I left Big Thunder Ranch BBQ with my Snickerdoodle leftovers, it was about 12:30 p.m. More families had arrived at the eatery and about nine tables were filled. I was glad to have missed the lunch rush and enjoyed my dessert in a calmer environment.
Needless to say, this joint is a must-visit for both first-timers who never had that all-you-can-eat BBQ experience, and those groups — or individuals — hungry for some delicious desserts. A word of advice: always ask about those “seasonal desserts.” You might just get lucky and have the opportunity to taste one like the Snickerdoodle version of the Cookie Bake, even during “off season.”
What’s your favorite dessert at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch BBQ? Let us know in the comments below!
Kelli Shiroma is a freelance writer from Honolulu, Hawaii. She is currently a graduate student at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Kelli hopes to pursue food journalism upon her graduation from USC in 2014. In her spare time, Kelli enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching movies, taking trips back home to O‘ahu, exploring new food joints, reading and, of course, going to Disneyland.