Despite being minutes away from Florida's largest ferris wheel, a two-story go-kart track, and half a dozen theme parks, some people will lose an entire afternoon watching Jade Bowser work. As the pastry chef at Amorette's in Disney Springs, a sprawling shopping center in Walt Disney World, it's her job to create Parisian-inspired sweets - and a quintet of ultra-modern cakes reminiscent of your favorite Disney characters.
"There are a lot of 'wow' moments when we're making these cakes, like when we pour the glaze," Bowser says, painting black food coloring on a pair of Minnie Mouse ears made out of white chocolate.
It's easy to see why people are so entranced - Bowser's on the pulse of the top cake decorating trends, doing things you've only seen on your Facebook newsfeeds. While everyone else is still thinking about naked cakes, Amorette's is dabbling in mirror glazes, which it uses instead of fondant on its character hat-inspired cakes, like the Minnie one in the video above.
They Don't Gloss Over The Details.
The glaze itself seems tricky - how do you get it so flawlessly smooth? And so shiny? And on that note, what is it even made out of?! Turns out it's not as complicated as you might think: Bowser melts white chocolate, mixing it with sweetened condensed milk and gelatin, then colors it to the exact shade she needs.
While the glaze is still warm - ideally 29 to 30 degrees Celsius, or about 84-86 degrees Fahrenheit - she pours it over an ice-cold, buttercream-frosted cake.
"That will make it nice and shiny once the gelatin sets," she explains. Bowser uses a small, pliable strip of plastic - like the kind you'd find on a report cover - to make sure the cake's evenly coated, smoothing out any drippy or gloppy areas. "It's such a simple tool, yet it works so well. You'd be surprised what I can find at a Home Depot or Lowe's to decorate cakes."
You have to walk that very, very fine line of a novelty, which is what everyone wants to see, and innovation, which is something that people have never seen before.
It's What's On The Inside That Counts.
While the decorating process hooks people, Amorette's doesn't just slap mouse ears on whatever's trending and call it a day. When they're developing a new cake, the filling comes first. And even that has to embody the character itself. It may sound woo-woo, but it's a way to ensure that every part of the dessert reminds you of the character it represents.
"Minnie Mouse is very light, and delicate, and feminine, so we have lemon and strawberry and vanilla flavors in her cake," Bowser says. "Goofy, he's got some real fun, interesting flavors in there, so he's got three different kinds of chocolate, and some popping candy in there, so that's a really nice surprise."
That doesn't mean chocolate lovers can't get a Minnie cake - the shop will decorate any flavor cake like the character you want - but when it came to developing each recipe, every ingredient and flourish was carefully considered.
Real Characters Work Here.
It's a task Disney's pastry team takes very seriously. Stefan Riemer, Disney's executive pastry chef for culinary development, once grilled a chocolatier on how she'd make a chocolate taste like Donald Duck before deciding to work with her.
"'You want a chocolate with foie gras in it?' she asked me. I said, 'No. Close your eyes: When you think of Donald Duck, what colors come to mind? What does he remind you of?'" Riemer says.
She mentioned white, yellow, and blue, and from there, they discussed Donald's at times fiery temper, before settling on a white chocolate bar studded with blueberries and a dash of habanero chili. (That bar is now sold just a few doors away, at The Ganachery.)
"Character integrity is really important to us," Bowser explains. It makes sense - ensuring the glaze on Minnie is always a particular shade of red, or that Mickey's buttons are just the right sunshine-y yellow is the culinary equivalent of seeing Mickey Mouse in the Magic Kingdom versus running into the uneven-eyed, grey-tinged imposters that charge you $5 a photo in Times Square.
There Are No Shortcuts.
As simple as the treat seems, it's a process: The whole thing takes three days to create from start to finish. That's because once the cake's baked, it has to cool - then freeze. That way it's easier to pop out of the dome it's baked in, before being crumb-coated and left in the fridge overnight to thaw out. The next morning, it's ready to glaze and decorate.
Still, the commitment to blending classic pastry techniques with new trends - while embodying the characters people know and love - is worth it to the chefs. It's all about striking the right balance.
"There's a difference between novelty and innovation," Bowser says. "I think you have to walk that very, very fine line of a novelty, which is what everyone wants to see, and innovation, which is something that people have never seen before."
They're giving people what they want - and what they didn't realize they wanted just yet. That may be Disney's greatest secret ingredient of all.
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