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Churro Cupcake Throwdown Part 2 of 2

17 Jul

(Read this post if you’re wondering what inspired this churro cupcake throwdown.)

After some hefty research, I found three churro cupcake recipes that looked up to par.

Recipe A

Recipe B

Recipe C

I made all three recipes and had some friends over for a tasting. After some serious judging, I collected the ballots and the result was unanimous. Recipe A won by a landslide. All three cupcakes were really good, but A delivered on every churro replicating level – texture, flavor, and mouth feel. Here are the actual comments collected from the judges:

Recipe A – loved the filling, very creamy and smooth, cinnamon stick was perfect, good cake texture, loved the frosting, the cinnamon stick was awesome, favorite, great mouth feel and flavor, dolce de leche added moisture, crisp adds churro texture, best flavor, texture, I loved the stick, it was the best, very light and fluffy

Recipe B – good, but cinnamon was not quite as strong, cake was sorta dry-ish, good frosting, it was ok, not enough flavor, dense, more muffin like, was ok should have tasted it first because A was so good, very good

Recipe C – cake was more dense than the others, really loved the frosting, the taste was a lot more like a churro, strongest cinnamon flavor, better than B but not A, even more dense than B but less sweet, frosting seemed smoother than B

The photo below shows A (bottom), B, and C (top).

Let’s make the winning cupcakes.

The Cooking

The ingredient line up:

To begin, make sure the eggs, butter, and cream cheese are at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Measure out the dry ingredients into a bowl.

In a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix it up til fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time. Mix.

Get some good vanilla (none of that artificial stuff). Put it in now.

This is an important part, so pay attention. Add a third of the dry ingredients and mix, just until combined.

Now add half of the milk and mix. Alternate until all the milk and dry ingredients are used.

End with the dry ingredients.

That last bit of dry ingredients evens out the texture perfectly. It should look like this.

Line a cupcake pan with liners of your choice and fill them three-fourths of the way full. Put them in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

When you take them out they will look like this.

Now the cinnamon frosting. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.

Add the cinnamon and that good vanilla you used earlier.

Mix, mix, mix.

Add a whole lot of powdered sugar and it will look like this.

The garnish is what makes these cupcakes. Start by heating some oil on medium-high heat. Then cut up a couple of tortillas into slices, get a paper towel, and mix together sugar and cinnamon.

Once the oil is hot, throw in a couple of the tortilla sticks. Make sure not to crowd the pan.

Flip them over when they get golden brown, they only take a few seconds so don’t walk away.

Remove them from the pan and let them drain briefly on the the paper towel.

Immediately put them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still hot.

They will look like this when you’re done. Put them in a really cute Mickey bowl (from Target) and do yourself a favor and make a lot of extra. They are addicting.

Time to assemble the cupcake. Make a hole in the cupcake for our filling (I use an apple corer).

Fill with warmed Dulce de Leche.

Frost and add the crispy cinnamon sticks. Admire your beautiful creation.

The Verdict

This cupcake delivered on taste, texture, and the cinnamon factor. The cupcake itself was so soft and fluffy, it really balances out the creaminess of the frosting. This frosting is a home run. The cinnamon flavor is right on and the texture is creamy and smooth. The crunchy tortillas strips add the needed crunch that mimics a churro. All in all you have everything, the soft center of the churro, the crunchy exterior, and the cinnamon mouth feel that we all know and love.

The Recipe

Churro Cupcakes

Recipe slightly modified from The Curvy Carrot

Servings: approximately 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

3 cups cake flour

2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 and 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons good vanilla extract

1 and 1/4 cups milk

1 can (14.1 ounces) of store-bought Dulce de Leche (or make your own)

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups powdered sugar

For the fried tortillas:

Two or three 8-inch flour tortillas, cut longitudinally into 1/2-inch wide strips

Canola oil, for frying

1 cup mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, mixed to your liking of desired sweetness


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin with the desired liners of your choice. In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, cinnamon, and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla, mixing well. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add one-third of the flour mixture. Add one-half of the milk, then alternate with another one-third of the flour mixture. Add the remaining milk, and then add the last one-third of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Divide the mixture evenly among your prepared pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature before filling and frosting.

In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon until well combined. Reduce the mixer to low speed, and gradually add the powdered sugar until mixed. (Feel free to add more for a thicker consistency.)

In a deep frying pan, heat the oil (about 3/4-inch in depth) on medium heat until very hot. (Test this by putting in a small piece of tortilla). Fry only a few of the tortilla strips at a time, turning them with tongs until lightly browned on both sides (about 5-10 seconds on each side). Place the strips on paper towel, and, while they are still warm, place in the cinnamon-sugar combination. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.

Using a small mellon baller, a knife, or an apple corer, gently cut a cone-shaped portion of cake out of the center of each cupcake from the top. Using a spoon, fill each cupcake with your desired amount of Dulce de Leche. Pipe the frosting over the tops of each cupcake with a large star tip (to mimic the shape of the churro).


Recipe Review: La Salade de Maison

16 May

The Story

Sometimes a really good salad is what you need in the parks.  Sometimes a little bit of goat cheese makes theme park food feel fancy. Sometimes a salad makes the “sliced turkey, ham and Swiss cheese fried in a light batter and served with berry puree dusted with powdered sugar” {aka Monte Cristo} that you’re about to eat not seem so bad.

And while you think, “I should be eating some vegetables on this vacation so I’ll order this salad.”, you won’t know what you’re getting into until you take that first bite. Do not underestimate this salad.

This salad is 1/4 of the perfect meal at Cafe Orleans{La Salade de Maison, Pomme Frites, New Orleans Gumbo and the Monte Cristo}. When I made the gumbo recipe I knew I had to have a go at the salad as well. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s easy, delicious and tastes exactly like the salad at Cafe Orleans. It is my favorite Disneyland salad.

Here is the menu description:

La Salade de Maison – Our Cafe Orleans signature house salad, featuring tossed baby greens in a raspberry vinaigrette, topped with cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and caramelized pecans. C’est bon! $5.49

The Cooking

Start with the pecans in a dry, cold pan.

Pour some sugar on top.

Turn on the heat and wait until the sugar starts to melt, mix it all up and add more sugar until you’re happy with the coating.

Let it cool and break it up.

The ingredient line up:

Let’s make a raspberry vinaigrette. Smash them up.

Then press the raspberry mush through a sieve.

Whisk in the oil.

Assemble a beautiful salad.

The Verdict

This is such a great salad. It’s easy, delicious and a step up from your normal salad. The saltiness of the goat cheese with the sweet pecans and cherry tomatoes make for a really fresh balance. This will be one of my go-to salad recipes.

The Recipe

There is not a recipe for the La Salade de Maison but it was easy enough to figure out. While I couldn’t find the recipe for the raspberry vinaigrette, I did find one from the Coral Reef Restaurant in EPCOT. Thanks to Magical Kingdoms, I found it here. I thought I’d give it a whirl, as homemade dressings are always better, but if you prefer, there are plenty of options at the grocery store for a delicious raspberry vinaigrette.

La Salade de Maison from Cafe Orleans, Disneyland

Serves 6 as starter salads, 4 as salad entree

1 – 5 oz. package Spring Mix greens

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 – 4 oz. log of fresh goat cheese

1 – 5 oz. bag of halved pecans


Raspberry vinaigrette

Place pecans in a clean, dry saute pan. Turn on medium heat. {Note: The nuts develop a better flavor if you have them in the pan while it comes up to heat.} Pour sugar liberally over the nuts. Stir only when you see the sugar start to melt around the edges. Once this starts slowly stir as the sugar heats up and adheres to the nuts. Continue adding more sugar until you are happy with the coating on the nuts. Remove from pan and place on wax paper until they are cool.

Remove greens from container and rinse well. Dry with paper towels or a salad spinner. Toss greens lightly with raspberry vinaigrette (recipe below). Add tomatoes and candied pecans. Crumble goat cheese on top right before serving. Add additional dressing and pepper on the table for guests to add if they choose.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

1/2 pint raspberries

3/4 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp German style mustard

1/2 tsp vinaigrette spice (recipe below)

2/3 cup canola oil

Puree the raspberries in a blender or a food processor and strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids; discard the solids.

To the raspberry puree add the raspberry vinegar, sugar, mustard and vinaigrette spice. Whisk until blended.

Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is emulsified. Use immediately or store for up to three days in a chilled and covered container. Whisk to combine just before using.

{Note: The raspberries I used were pretty tart so I ended up adding quite a bit more sugar before it was sweet enough for our liking. Add and taste as you go.}

Vinaigrette Spice

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp dried basil leaves

1/4 tsp dried tarragon leaves

1/4 tsp dried oregano leaves

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine all ingredients.


Recipe Review – New Orleans Gumbo

13 May

The Story

Tucked away in Disneyland is a unique gem. This place immerses you in charming, authentic, wonderful splendor, and just so happens to be in my personal favorite spot in the park: New Orleans Square. Not only do two of the best attractions, Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, live here, it’s also easily the best foodie location as well. The Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans and the beignet/mint julep window have, hands down, some of the best food in the parks. You will find me there.

The Blue Bayou, which lives in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, has a sister in Cafe Orleans. Cafe Orleans is equally awesome, but less expensive. They share a similar style of food and even a few of dishes. For example, their gumbo is one and the same. At the Blue Bayou, the famous Monte Cristo sandwich can only be found on the lunch menu, but can be had at Cafe Orleans all day! You will pay more for the one-of-a-kind atmosphere of The Blue Bayou, but the food is pretty much equal.

We find ourselves with a reservation at Cafe Orleans on every trip we take. It’s become a staple. Why? They have what I find to be close to the perfect meal, with a great balance of salty, sweet and savory.  We order the same thing every time we go and share everything. A Monte Cristo, a bowl (not a cup) of New Orleans Gumbo, the La Salade de Maison, and an order of the Pommes Frites. It’s insane. Try. It. Now.

Did you know you can go to City Hall on Main Street and ask for recipes of things you ate in the parks?! I’d heard this to be true but never tried it myself until our last trip. We stopped at City Hall to ask for the recipe for the Monte Cristo. The cast member was happy to share and while flipping through the pages, my friend caught sight of the New Orleans Gumbo recipe, and boy am I glad she did. Now I can try this beauty at home. {Note: They don’t have every recipe, but the binder was pretty big.}

Here is the description of the gumbo from the Cafe Orleans menu:

New Orleans Gumbo – A rich, flavorful stew with chicken, andouille sausage and tasso ham, served with Cajun-style “dirty rice”. Cup $5.49, Bowl $8.49

Here is the recipe I received at City Hall:

{Click on photo to enlarge}

Did you notice a problem here? Or maybe a few?

The recipe gives you a choice of chicken, steak or seafood, while the menu describes the meat to be chicken, andouille sausage AND tasso ham. The ingredients lists the roux twice. In different measurements. {Maybe this is why the consistency was all wrong.} Also the recipe calls for just plain old rice. This just won’t do! You MUST MUST MUST use New Orleans style dirty rice, it won’t be the same without it. The recipe also doesn’t mention anything about the garnish of green onions that you can see in my photo above! Make it pretty! And crusty bread needs to be friends with this gumbo.

Let’s give it a go.

The Cooking

The ingredient line up:

My mise en place. I’ll tell you more about this later, in another post.

The roux starts like this:

This is what 15 minutes of cooking will do! It will look like caramel. And smells divine. {But not like caramel.}

Add some veggies.

And let it gunk up like this:

Add everything else.

Give it some spice.

Make it pretty with a garnish, you eat with your eyes first.

The Verdict

The taste was right on, but the consistency was………….a broth. Yikes. I’m not sure why the consistency was soo off. I’ve looked at other reviews of this recipe and they all said the same thing. It still makes a great, flavorful, spicy gumbo-ish soup. It’s pretty healthy too. I will be working on a modified recipe to get the texture right.

The Recipe

This is the original recipe with the original proportions, the only differences are that I halved it, now making it serve 6-8, changed the measurements from ounces to cups, and added the additional meats that are mentioned on the menu. I’ve added more detail to the instructions as well, my notes will be in purple.

New Orleans Gumbo from Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans, Disneyland

Serves 6-8

1/4 cup butter, softened at room temperature

1/4 cup flour

10 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup celery, finely diced

1/2 cup onion, finely diced

1/2 cup chicken, finely diced

1/2 cup andouille sausage, finely diced

1/2 cup tasso ham, finely diced

1 cup tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 cup okra, finely diced

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp gumbo file

Dirty rice (1/2 cup to 1 cup per person)

Green onions for garnish

Crusty bread for dipping

Melt butter in a large pot; add flour to make a roux (pronounced “rue”). Cook the roux for 15 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add onion and celery; cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add chicken stock about a cup at a time, making sure the roux is completely dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes. {This would be a great time to start the rice.} Cook “dirty rice” (I used the Zatarain’s Dirty Rice Mix). Add all the remaining ingredients to the gumbo and return to a simmer. Adjust salt to taste.

Serve gumbo over rice and garnish with green onions to make it pretty. Don’t forget the crusty bread.

*This dish could easily be made vegetarian by removing the meats.

*If spicy scares you, cut back on the cayenne.

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