Sunday, December 18, 2016

Disney's Grand Floridian Bakery Gingerbread Cookies ~ My Take

I love gingerbread cookies, so was eager to try this version from the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Bakery. A quick glance at the ingredients showed more the recipe used more than the usual amount of butter plus used confectioners sugar instead of granulated, so I knew it would have a different flair. The cookies are dipped in colored sugar before baking so that was a difference also, a welcome one since I always make too much royal icing, it always gets everything globbed up and I don't have much piping talent.
Here's the recipe with 'my take' changes and tips in parentheses.
2 sticks butter softened
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 eggs
3 2/3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground star anise (I couldn't find this so just got regular anise and ground it in my coffee grinder)
1 teaspoon ground fennel (couldn't find this so left out)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup colored decorating sugar
1/4 cup milk

Combine butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer and beat until smooth.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, coriander, anise, baking powder, fennel, ginger, cloves, mace and salt into a separate large bowl. (I had massive problems with the dough getting too crumbly and had to fix it, so just to make sure this doesn't happen to you, I'd suggest just mixing the spices, etc., into ONE cup of flour. Then add that cup and mix well. You can then slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is the proper consistency, and if the entire amount isn't needed, at least you have all the spices mixed in).
Slowly add dry ingredients until dough holds together (see above);
Remove dough from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Divide dough in half, and return one half to refrigerator. Place the other half on a floured work surface. Roll dough to 1/8" thickness, flouring work surface as needed.
Cut out cookies with cookie cutter, dipping cutters into flour to make a neat edge (it's even better if you have a Mickey Gingerbread Man cookie cutter).
Lightly brush cookies with milk and sprinkle with colored sugar (I just flopped the whole thing in a plate of the sugar to coat it well).

Bake until firm and edges begin to darken, 10-14 minutes. Allow cookies to slightly cool on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks to completely cool.
Repeat with remaining dough.

 These are really good! I think I like them even better than traditional gingerbread men, since they have more of a shortbread texture and the sugar coating gives then a good crunch. Winner!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Disncy Cruise Line Reimagined Wonder ~ Tiana's Place Restaurant

One of the things I was most excited about when I heard of the Disney Wonder being reimagined was the addition of Tiana's Place from the Princess and the Frog. And this new spot lives up to any and all expectations.
The restaurant replaces Parrot Cay on the Wonder, and instead of entering the tropics as before, you are instead immersed in New Orleans.
Every detail, large and small is spot on and reflects just the sort of upscale, yet warm and inviting space Tiana would love.
From the menu, to the table settings, which includes lily pads, mason jar glasses and the most theft worthy themed plates of any Disney locale, take time to notice it all.
This is all well and good, but what about the food? With a distinct New Orleans vibe, you'll hope this restaurant in on your dining rotation more than once.
I had the delicious meatball appetizer and artichoke ravioli, but found many other options I'd like to try. I guess I'll just have to return!

Did I mention dessert? The menu lights up!
 And the choices are all tempting, but you must try the classic beignets and bread pudding.
It's always Mardi Gras (with Disney sensibilities) at Tiana's so be prepared for beads, a personal visit from your gracious hostess, live jazz music,  and a visit from Louis the Alligator. And of course there's a dance party for you to join in!
The wonderful Disney Imagineers have out done themselves here. Plan to sail on the Disney Wonder soon to experience it all yourself.