Our road trip continues with a good old-fashioned pit stop at the Happiest Place on Earth. For some people, going to Disneyland means hitting all the shows, parades, and attractions. We like to do that too, but because we have annual passes and go so often, we’ve added to our adventure by becoming hunters for the best dishes and treats in the park. There are a lot of treats to be had, and they’re more delicious than you may think.
I know for most people, the first images that come to mind of amusement park food are burgers, hot dogs, and fries, followed closely by cotton candy and maybe a snow cone or two. For most amusement parks, you wouldn’t be far off.
But Disneyland isn’t just an amusement park, and I’ve been there enough times to know that there’s a foodie adventure to be had in the park if you just look for it. Yes, there are a fair share of food options that include hot dogs and burgers, but if you dig a little deeper, there are also restaurants and cafes that correspond their theme to their dishes. You can literally sample classics from around the world.
Take New Orlean’s Square for example: although this area holds the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, it also has Café Orleans, the Mint Julep Bar, the Blue Bayou restaurant, and the French Market. Even one of these spots is worth the price of admission, and you’ll find treasures like Gumbo in a sour dough bread bowl, Pomme Frites, and French macaroons.
Head around the corner and you can find the most amazing asparagus and bacon skewers at the Bengal BBQ. Venture on a little further and stop at Rancho Del Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant with authentic chicken tortilla soup. The choices are literally limitless, and they switch up parts of their menus according to the seasons.
Out of all the treats in Disneyland, there’s one that keeps us coming back for more: New Orlean’s style Beignets. You can get them in the Jazz Kitchen Restaurant in downtown Disney, or you can stand in the lineup at the Mint Julep bar and grab a bag there. If you have the option to do one or the other, I’d go for the Mint Julep bar. The beignets are lighter, fluffier, and melt in your mouth.
Beignets are a New Orlean’s dish that’s served for breakfast, but in other parts of the USA people eat them for dessert. They are made from dough that’s been left to rise for a period of time, and then fried in a pan.
I asked the chef at the French Quarter restaurant about the beignets and he told me that at Christmas time, they do their beignets with a gingerbread dipping sauce. For Halloween, they’ll sometimes do pumpkin beignets. What you get depends on when you visit, but trust me, they’re all good.
If you want to try making beignets at home, I’ve dug up this recipe from Chef In Training for you. It’s a copy of the Disney beignets, and I’ve made it myself with varying results. The trick is to really mix the dough with your stand mixer, then roll out you dough and make sure it’s not too thick. After you let them rise for a while, they’ll literally explode in your frying pan.
1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups flour
1/2 cup boiling water
Oil for frying
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Combine sugar, shortening, salt, heavy cream, egg, flour and boiling water in a large bowl; stir in yeast mixture. With the dough hook attachment of an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the dough just until combined and smooth. Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
Roll to 1/4-inch thickness and cut individual beignets with a Mickey Mouse-shaped cutter or cut into 2 1/2 to 3-inch squares.
Cover with a towel and let dough rise until doubled in size in a warm, draft-free area, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 350°F in a deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Fry beignets until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning as soon as they brown on one side. Remove with tongs and place on paper towels to drain.
Dust warm beignets with powdered sugar and serve immediately. You can also spread some honey butter on them if you would like.
I hope you’re next trip to Disneyland includes a bit of food touring! In the meantime, if you’d like to make your own beignets at home, try these small appliances.
Great beignets start with proper mixing of the dough, and a stand mixer makes it simple.
Don’t want to make beignets? You can still get a touch of Mickey with a Mickey Mouse cake pan.
Did you read about our last road trip stop in Portland? Check out our trip to the Waffle Window.