Food Challenge: The 2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl

I suppose it’s no secret that we love our cupcakes here at Disney Food Blog!

And every year the holiday cupcake creations that crop up all over Disney World remind us exactly why we adore them so much. Last year we started a new tradition with our 2012 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl Challenge!

This year we found even more awesome holiday cupcakes, so we’ve decided to bring back the special Holiday Event from last year! Check out some of these unique and gorgeous holiday cupcakes around the Disney World resorts in 2013!

Welcome to the…

2013 DFB Holiday Cupcake Crawl!

Like last year, most of these cupcakes are available as snack credits on the Disney Dining Plan, so stock up those credits, and get ready to roll!

The Beach Club Resort: Cupcakes Required = 1

Starting just outside Epcot’s International Gateway, The Beach Club’s Marketplace is home to a wonderfully sparkling Gingerbread Cupcake that’s guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit!

Gingerbread Cupcake

The first thing to draw your attention is the large sugar crystals that serve as edible glitter among the red and green sprinkles of mini Christmas trees and candy canes. They sit atop a cream cheese frosting that is surprisingly dense. It’s almost like eating a sweetened cream cheese straight out of the container… and you will never hear me complain about that ;)!

The Beach Club's Gingerbread Cupcake

The cake base is more reminiscent of a mild spice cake than a stronger dark gingerbread flavor. I think it is a good balance to the sweetness of all the sugar on top (including the pretty sugar snowflake), but it’s a good thing to know if you’re expecting something different.

Inside the Gingerbread Cupcake

Not in the mood for gingerbread? You can grab this Vanilla Cupcake with red and green Minnie and Mickey Toppers for your crawl credit!

Vanilla Cupcake

BoardWalk Inn: Cupcakes Required = 1

We’re staying within the Epcot Resorts for our next stop. [Read more…]

Disney Food Pics of the Week: Coffee!

Aaaaaahhhh…Coffee. Some of us simply can’t get the old motor cranking in the morning without it! And there have been some changes to the coffee world in Disney parks these days!

We thought it would be fun to show off some of the pictures that YOU have captured of java in our regular feature, Disney Food Pics of the Week. Thanks to those readers who shared with us a little of their Disney trip by posting on Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza, our Flickr group!

If you’d like to get in on the fun, head over to Disney Food Blog Photo Extravaganza on Flickr and join the group. We’d love to see even more of your great food shots! Let’s see what you’ve found!

Iced Pumpkin Spiced Latte at Main Street Bakery

The real victory for many coffee lovers at Disney parks has been the opening of Starbucks in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. The first location opened at Walt Disney World transformed fan favorite Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom to a mix of part bakery, part retro coffee shop.

While reviews have been a somewhat mixed, many guests are super happy to stroll down Main Street USA with their favorite Seasonal Iced Latte in hand!

Photographer: ernobrn0918

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Main Street Bakery

Vacuum Pot Coffee at Victoria & Albert’s

But then, if you are looking for the most prestigious pot of coffee anywhere in all of Walt Disney World…well, you just knew it would be Victoria & Albert’s that delivered, right?

This is coffee as theater, my friends, and it’s just as dramatic and delicious as it looks.

Photographer: Spikey1967

Cona Vacuum Pot from Victoria and Albert's

Press Pot Coffee From Kouzzina

Kouzzina is Chef Cat Cora’s Greek-leaning restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. In relatively short order, this [Read more…]

5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

So, you’re in Disney World, but for whatever reason, you don’t want to use a park ticket that morning/night/afternoon/arrival day/leaving day. No problemo!!

You can still cross some of the best Disney snacks off your must-eat list…even without scanning a single ticket/magicband/key to the World card!

Everyone knows that you can get a Mickey Bar all over the place in Disney World (you DID know that, right?), but we’ve got a few more must-try eats to share with you today! Time to check out our 5 Must Eat Disney Snacks You Can Get Without a Park Ticket!

Dole Whip

UPDATE: Dole Whip is no longer being served at Captain Cook’s, is no longer self-serve, and is no longer available 24 hours a day. BUT — you still can get it outside of the Parks. You’ll now find Dole Whip at the Pineapple Lanai in Disney’s Polynesian Village. You can also get a Dole Whip Float at Pineapple Lanai!

Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, the Big Kahuna of Disney Must Have Treats, the stuff that legends and t shirts are made of. Ladies and gentleman, we are talking about the Dole Whip here, of course.

This frosty, delicious treat has a bona fide cult following that has blown up and taken over mainstream! You simply cannot visit Disney without having one, whether it’s a float (my favorite!) or a cup.

Dole Whip

The pineapple soft serve, which is both vegan and gluten-free, is the perfect refreshing dessert on a sunshiny day!

Even though there are few things that say “I’m at Disney right now!!!!!!” more loud and proud than strolling through Magic Kingdom, Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle in hand, it’s great to know that you don’t ever have to head into the parks to score one of these babies!

If you’re craving some of that tropical goodness and you aren’t on park time, just head over to Captain Cook’s Snack Company at Disney’s Polynesian Resort to get your fix! The Poly’s counter service spot is not only home to some deee-licious fast fare, but they also have Dole Whip machines that pump out the yum dessert.

Dole Whip (Almost) 24-7!

And here’s a BIG OL’ TIP: You can get a Dole Whip here all day…and all night!! long. :-D Note, they DO shut down the machine for, like, one hour each night to clean it (believe me, I’ve been disappointed during that one hour before); so just avoid the 3AM Dole Whip craving and you’re good to go.

Zebra Domes

Ah, Zebra Domes. How (much) do I love thee? Enough to truck all the way over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge regardless of where I’m staying, that’s how much.

These little half-spheres first called to us from the buffet of Boma, one of Animal Kingdom Lodge’s most celebrated table service restaurants. Sure, we love Boma for their exotic dinner fare (those soups!), their carved meats and interesting condiments, and their delicious breakfast spread. But one thing’s for sure: a trip here must end with at least one Zebra Dome.

A Herd of Zebra Domes

The creamy, rich mousse domes taste like nothing you’ve ever had. That’s because the secret special ingredient is [Read more…]

Getting the Best Spot for the Big Game: Strategizing and NEW VIP Seating at Disney World’s ESPN Club

So apparently there’s a this thing that happens in the winter called football.

It’s not my personal bag of chips, but my husband is all but obsessed with it. We’ve spent many an hour during our Disney vacations strategizing about how to make sure he’ll get to see his beloved Giants games on TV while we’re in Florida. (Well, probably not such an issue this year … but I digress.)

The finest place at Disney World to watch any big televised sporting event is the ESPN Club, located on the Boardwalk, just past the International Gateway exit from Epcot. And they’ve just introduced a brand new VIP seating option for game day… . More about that in a minute.

They’ve got cold brew on tap, the best wings in town, and most importantly, approximately a billion television sets tuned to sports channels.

ESPN Club -- With a line to get in on Game Day!

Heck, they’ve even got TVs in the bathrooms.

Restroom Stall TV

And like any good sports bar, there’s lots of friendly banter among fans of rival teams.

Sounds perfect, right? The only problem is that because it’s such an awesome place, and because the number of venues to watch non-market games at WDW is fairly limited, the ESPN Club tends to fill up quickly. Without a plan, you’ll end up shut out of ESPN, scrambling to find a cab to watch your game at an off-site Applebee’s.

Don't Miss The Chance to See the Game in Disney World!

Here are some tips to make sure that you get in to watch your game in style:

NEW VIP Seating and Reservations

During football games, ESPN is now offering a VIP seating option.

With VIP seating, you can make reservations for your game of choice. This is particularly notable, because this is the only way to secure a reservation at ESPN Club. Theoretically, you can do this through the main Disney Dining Line (407-WDW-DINE), but when I called to give it a shot, they had no idea what I was talking about. I had much better luck calling ESPN Club directly at 407-939-1177. The cast member who answered there was super knowledgeable about game times and was happy to take a reservation.

The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m., so that’s when they’ll be [Read more…]

Peppermint Cupcakes have arrived for the Season at BoardWalk Bakery!

Disney World’s BoardWalk Bakery always delights and surprises guests for the holidays with new treats and fun sweets. We couldn’t wait to see what they’d come up with this season!

Come On In!

Aaah… BoardWalk Bakery! 2013 was a big year for this beloved snack stop! In April, it reopened after a lengthy refurbishment, offering much more space to hold all those tasty treats!

Home to the classic Cheesecake Brownie and the new Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie, it’s now also home to one of the first standout specialty cupcakes of the holiday season: The Peppermint Cupcake!

Peppermint Cupcakes at Boardwalk Bakery

It was easy to spot this standout in the bakery case, finding its place next to a couple of the Bakery’s tried-and-trues: Oreo Bon Bon and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

Ore Bon Bon and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

It’s hard to say which was more intriguing at first glance… the crème de menthe candy pieces popping out from the top, or the fact that this cupcake totally sparkles!

Peppermint Cupcakes ready for the Holiday Season

Let’s take a closer look! [Read more…]

Disney Recipe: Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie From the Boardwalk Bakery

And now…a recipe for a super-interesting new dessert in Disney World!

When the brand new BoardWalk Bakery reopened earlier this year, we were there bright and early on the very first morning to bring you a full account of what was new, and what was returning.

And while we found many brand new things to love, like the Lemon Meringue Tart (sigh), one of our top pics was the Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie!

Sounds pretty keen, doesn’t it?

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie

Well, it kind of is! The combination of [Read more…]

2013 Holiday Gingerbread Houses and Pins at Walt Disney World Resorts

Once again, visions of gingerbread houses will become reality at select Walt Disney World resort hotels!

The holiday season is underway as Mickey and his elves (and some talented chefs!) get busy filling the resorts and parks with seasonal decor, merchandise, and treats. Plan to stop by the resorts to see the displays, purchase a pin, and/or meet one of the fabulous chefs!

Life-size!

To commemorate the inspiring gingerbread houses, NEW limited edition pins will be released. Starting November 14, 2013, gingerbread house pins will go on sale at the Contemporary, Beach Club, and Grand Floridian resorts. Disney’s BoardWalk pin will debut on November 29th.

Grand Floridian Gingerbread House

So which came first? The gingerbread or the pin? Well, Jeanne Lewis (Disney pins merchandiser) explained how the Disney pastry chefs studied the pins in order to select characters to incorporate into their designs!

2013 Disney World Gingerbread Houses and Pins!

The Grand Floridian’s pin celebrates the 15th anniversary of their unique gingerbread house. Meet executive chef Erich Herbitschek on November 16 from 1-2PM near the Grand Floridian gingerbread house.

Grand Floridian 2013 Gingerbread House Pin

And how cool is it that the Contemporary’s pin showcases the five-legged goat from Disney Legend Mary Blair’s mural. Five-legged goat,  you ask?! You’ll want to look for it on your next visit to the Grand Canyon Concourse at this Disney resort! On November 15, meet pastry chef Jeff Barnes at Disney’s Contemporary Resort from 5-7 PM.

Contemporary Resort Gingerbread Tree

Contemporary and Beach Club 2013 Gingerbread House Pins

Stop by the Beach Club on November 18 to meet pastry chef Deran Lanpher from 1-2:30PM and to see the creative gingerbread displays.

Beach Club Carousel from Above

Disney’s BoardWalk is unveiling a new [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast at Kouzzina in Disney’s BoardWalk Inn

Let’s head to one of my highly recommended breakfast spots — Kouzzina, at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn!

This casual, but classy restaurant is carries the name of celebrity chef Cat Cora, and features a menu with a Mediterranean influence that celebrates Cora’s Greek heritage.

Kouzzina has won critical acclaim, and has long been one of our favorite stops for breakfast in all of Walt Disney World. So on a recent trip there, we decided to drop by and see what was new…and there was one thing that I’m STILL dreaming about today! I can’t wait to tell you about it!

Read on!

Atmosphere

Entering Kouzzina from the almost carnival-like atmosphere of Disney’s BoardWalk, you immediately sense a shift in mood. Kouzzina has a decidedly refined atmosphere, but with many rustic touches. It’s almost like urban-meets-farmhouse.

Menu Cover

In the entryway, there are shelves with mementos and cooking vessels. We spied this Hidden Mickey, which is a nice reminder that although Cat Cora is the chef, you’re still at Disney.

Entryway Decor Featuring a Hidden Mickey

Since a renovation last year, you can find lots of Cora-rific goodies for sale in the lobby of the restaurant.

A List of Available Merchandise

Some of the Cat Cora Merchandise for Sale

Once your name is called and you head into the restaurant, you’ll see another result of the recent renovation. Olive Oil — Greek Olive Oil, to be precise — is used as a hip decor element. Personally, I think this is a little too contemporary for the more “farmhouse-y” feel of the restaurant, but that’s why I’m not an interior designer I guess.

Olive Oil Bottles

While the art wall of olive oil bottles provides the urban touch, lots of dark wood in the dining room brings the rustic feel to the party. Walls with dark wood wainscoting match booths, tables, and beamed ceilings. Lighter wood planks cover the floor. All in all, the hard surfaces and high ceilings can make for a loud space, but the overall feeling is comfortable.

Seating

Bright light is filtered at the windows through white curtains. It really is a very relaxing spot for breakfast in WDW! A good contrast to what you’re about to experience in the parks! ;-)

Windows

Be sure to look up, too. The light fixtures are really beautiful, with an almost Middle Eastern look.

Beautiful Light Fixture

And the painted tin ceiling carries the feeling of antiquity through the space.

Light Fixture From Another Angle

The open kitchen draws the eye, however. It’s always entertaining to watch [Read more…]

Review: NEW Lemon Blueberry Cupcake from BoardWalk Bakery

During my recent trip to Walt Disney World for opening week of the 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, I got the chance to visit the BoardWalk Inn and Villas right out side of Epcot.

I love that resort for the close proximity to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. But there’s another great reason to stop by: you’re steps away from BoardWalk Bakery!

And wouldn’t you know it, as I was walking by the bakery I read a twitter message from someone that mentioned a brand new cupcake! I had to stop in and check it out! (Thanks to whoever tweeted that, by the way!)

Lemon Blueberry Cupcake

We know that the Disney pastry chefs just lurve the whole lemon-blueberry combo, as do I. We’ve seen it pop up on menus from the Cinderella’s Royal Table (see my dinner review here) to Yachtsman Steakhouse (and here’s my account of dinner there), and lots of other places, too. (A moment of silence for Jiko’s House-Made Meyer Lemon Curd with Blueberry Compote, White Chocolate Biscotti, and Sour Cream Ice Cream.)

So it was no surprise that now we have the Lemon Blueberry Cupcake!

Rows of Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes in the Bakery Case

I pounced on this one in a heartbeat, even leaving behind a couple of my favorites, like the Salted Caramel Ganache and Lemon Meringue Tart, just so I could try it!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcake in Its Handy Carry Case

Out of the container, Disney cupcake connoisseurs will note that [Read more…]

6 New Things You’ve Gotta Try in Disney World!

So we all have our Disney food favorites.

You know them — the ones that would result in tears, anger, and staged protests if they ever disappear from menus. It’s okay. You can admit it.

Because I’d totally be leading the charge if they ever stop serving Dole Whip Floats.

But even with all the amazing favorites that give us warm fuzzies (and, in my case, cause me to go back to Disney parks over and over again), I still love Disney’s mission to surprise and delight guests with new offerings. It seems like every week, there’s something they’re debuting that I go nutso over — and off I go to add it to the next trip’s “must-eat” list.

Today, I’m offering a run down of the latest things that are on the list for my next trip. I’ve tried a few already, and others are completely new to me. And even though I’ll be in the ‘World smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, I’m saving room for these treats!

Gourmet Cake Cups at Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Cafe

You Guys. I have a new FAVORITE obsession. And this time, it starts with Cake. And ends with Cup. Instead of the other way around.

We brought you the first look at the new Gourmet Cake Cups at Magic Kingdom’s Cheshire Cafe just recently. This spot in Fantasyland, formerly known as Enchanted Grove, has always been cute, but it’s never numbered among our “must-visits.”

But that has changed completely since they introduced these amazing treats.

Cheshire Cake Cup. The Stuff That My Cake Dreams Are Made Of. (Namely, Frosting.)

I mean seriously, you would think they picked up the phone, called me, and said, “AJ, we’re making a new treat, and you’re in charge of R&D.”

The parfaits are a topsy-turvy, whimsical take on a cupcake, turning the über popular treat into what it should be: a vehicle for frosting. I mean really, when was the last time you ate a cupcake and said, “Gee, that was pretty good, but I really could have used more cake.”

Um. Never.

And this cake cup got it RIGHT.

Look at All. Of. This. Frosting!

So it was a given that I made a beeline for [Read more…]