Favorite Disney Foods: Creme Brulee
Crème brulee is the kind of dessert that is pure comfort food that’s right at home in a more sophisticated restaurant. It’s really just pudding that’s been given the grown-up treatment: Cream instead of milk, cooked on the stove then baked in a water bath, and covered with crackly burnt sugar. Despite its rather fancy pedigree, it’s actually quite easy to make, requiring only that you be able to temper the eggs, which is as simple as whisking warmed eggs into hot cream, and use a small torch to burn the sugar. In fact, it started out as dorm food in England, where students would make it on hotplates. Because there are only a handful of ingredients, it’s important to use the best you can find so that the flavor you’re trying to highlight, usually vanilla, stands out in the best possible way.
Baking is my hobby, so I’m pretty particular about desserts. At a lot of restaurants, I don’t even bother ordering dessert because I know they won’t be that good, however I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how good desserts are at Disney table service restaurants. Even at the buffets, I was blown away by the choices; the dessert at Boma would have been at home at a signature restaurant and the choices at Crystal Palace were a terrific surprise after the food portion of our meal, which was good but not especially remarkable.
Because it’s such a popular choice, you’ll find crème brulee on a number of menus at Disney World and despite feeding thousands of people a day, it will more than likely be good crème brulee. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find bad crème brulee anywhere on Disney property; I haven’t yet. I tend to order it quite often, and as a result, have tried it at a number of Disney restaurants. Here are my top three in no particular order:
- The crème brulee at Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney was a real surprise. WPE is one of my favorite counter service places to eat. I love the sandwiches, pasta and rotisserie chicken. Even the kid’s pizza is good. But the crème brulee was the real surprise. Made with real vanilla beans, it had a nice full flavor and creamy texture that belied the fact that it’s served in what’s essentialy a fast food setting. The real shocker was that it was only $5. Truthfully, it was as good as the crème brulee I’ve had at signature restaurants. WPE is on the dining plan and is one of your best uses of your table service credits, so by all means, make the trip to Downtown Disney and enjoy.
- Narcoossee’s is a great restaurant for a celebration. With a view of Seven Seas Lagoon and the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, it’s a date night kind of place, but it’s still casual enough that you won’t feel uncomfortable if you’ve just come from one of the parks. Narcoossee’s generally focuses on Florida seafood, so you expect to find some form of Key Lime pie on the menu; after all, it’s practically the state dessert. The problem with Key Lime pie served outside of someone’s home is that it’s usually bad, either too sweet or too tart, and covered with canned whipped cream that tastes like a chemistry experiment. Because of this, I stopped ordering it when I go out to eat, however, I made an exception for the key lime crème brulee at Narcoossee’s and I’m glad I did. It’s really excellent. This dessert is sometimes paired with a coconut creme brulee which is also good, but the Key Lime flavor is the clear winner. The flavor is fresh and clean. It’s not like the pie, exactly, but you’ll catch hints of that familiar key lime flavor. I might even like it better than Key Lime pie.
- Okay, I know I said that these were my favorite three were in no particular order, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Butterscotch Crème Brulee at California Grill, my absolute favorite Disney restaurant. It comes with two small loaves of banana bread. They’re good and look cute on the plate, but they’re more of an afterthought. There’s also a few slices of bananas that have been given the “brulee” treatment and are surprisingly good, warm and then crunchy at the same time. The crème brulee itself is a step above its plain vanilla cousin. It’s got a deep flavor that isn’t overpowering; it’s more just layered and rich, like the butterscotch pudding you remember as a kid, only so much better. Try it and you’ll be converted. It’s not on the menu all the time, unfortunately, but when it is, it’s a favorite.