Strawberry Shortcake Showdown
Strawberry Shortcake is one of my all-time favorite desserts. This may or may not have anything to do with the extensive collection of dolls and other accessories by the same name that I collected in the 1980s. I think it is a great dessert or sweet treat when visiting Walt Disney World because it is usually light (compared to say, chocolate cake) and served at least slightly chilled—both pluses in Orlando’s hot and humid climate. Plus, it has fruit on it so it must be healthy, right?
You have several options if you have a craving for Strawberry Shortcake in Walt Disney World. In this showdown we are going to compare the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake found at the Boardwalk Bakery, the layered Strawberry Shortcake from Sunshine Seasons, and the traditional Strawberry Shortcake served at Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. There are other locations to get your Strawberry Shortcake fix while visiting the World. If you are in Downtown Disney you can find a serving at Earl of Sandwich for $3.99. In the Magic Kingdom Storybook Treats serves a Strawberry Shortcake Sundae, shortcake topped with soft serve vanilla ice cream and a strawberry topping ($4.99 or a Snack Credit on the Disney Dining Plan). I am sure there are others.
Our first contender in the Strawberry Shortcake Showdown is the Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake served in the Boardwalk Bakery at the Boardwalk Resort. ($3.99 or a Snack Credit on the Disney Dining Plan) This non-traditional taste of Strawberry Shortcake is quite good. The moist yellow cake is filled with a cream filling mixed with strawberry pieces, and iced with a swirl of strawberry and cream icing. The finishing touches are a strawberry on top and red sprinkles around the edge. The presentation is half of the score, right? Well, this one is very pretty, so it scores major points there. Points are awarded for the moist cake and the flavor and quantity of the cream between the icing and the filling. But, this cupcake lacks one of my favorite components of a good Strawberry Shortcake: Strawberries! Lots of them, and lots of juice. This cupcake is nice and neat so it is easy to eat, but I miss the overload of strawberries—that is the namesake afterall.
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Next up is the fan favorite the Sunshine Seasons Strawberry Shortcake (try saying that five times fast) found in the bakery section. ($3.99 or a Snack Credit on the Disney Dining Plan) This counter service location is in the Land Pavilion in Epcot’s Future World. Their version of Strawberry Shortcake is layered, and is obviously prepared in a pan as a large dish then cut into square portions. The cake here seems to be more of a sponge cake (as the name implies it would work well for soaking up yummy strawberry juice), and is alternated with layers of cream and strawberries then topped with more cream and a cut strawberry. Again, very pretty, so mark some points there. The cream is substantial, making up most of the dessert, and it is a heavier whipped cream than say “Cool Whip.” Cream is good and adds to the moisture of the overall cake, so that scores points in my book. Although this version has more strawberries to it than the Boardwalk cupcake, it still doesn’t have enough for my taste.
For our final contestant we travel over to Fort Wilderness to enjoy the long running dinner show, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. This is by far the priciest Strawberry Shortcake on property since you would have to pay for the entire dinner and performance to enjoy it; but, with the hilarity of the show and the tastiness of the all-you-can-eat fried chicken and ribs I would argue it is worth it. As you can see in the photos, this is the messiest of the Strawberry Shortcakes, and if you haven’t guessed yet, that’s the way I like it! Served family style, you can jockey with your tablemates to see who gets the juiciest portions. This is a dense cake, what I consider a true shortcake, add points for keeping with tradition. It has a very light whipped cream, and . . . drumroll please . . . Juicy Strawberries! And lots of them compared to the Boardwalk and Sunshine Seasons versions. Score major points here. The only downside I see here is that you can’t just pop in any time the craving for Strawberry Shortcake hits you like you can at the other two restaurants, so that takes a few points off the total.
After much deliberation, I must declare a winner: Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue’s Strawberry Shortcake! What other dessert has an entire musical number dedicated to its presentation at your table? The Sunshine Seasons version wins the silver medal. It has a slightly higher strawberry count than the cupcake, and it is a little easier for most guests to access Sunshine Seasons than the Boardwalk Bakery. That leaves third place for the cupcake at Boardwalk Bakery. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good cupcake, and it doesn’t leave you with that heavy feeling like many of the Disney cupcakes do. But, this is a Strawberry Shortcake Showdown, and when I examine it under that light it just doesn’t hold up to the other two. It was a tough job to judge these, but somebody had to do it.
So, what do you think? Which version of the classic Strawberry Shortcake dessert is your favorite?