Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing some of the magic you can expect at the 2017 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival.
When I was younger, my world was divided into two categories… Food I could eat while wearing braces and food I couldn’t.
Beijing-Style Candied Strawberries? They would have been in the “who are you kidding, you shouldn’t even dream about eating them” category.
Introduced during the 2013 EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival, these amazing treats quick became one of the signature snacks available at the many kiosks around the World Showcase. What’s not to love? Crunchy candy shell, sweet, juicy, fresh strawberries… I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these. I had read the reviews beforehand, I knew that some people found them too sweet, some found them too hard to eat, others weren’t a fan of the sesame seeds (by the time I hit the festival, the last weekend it was running in 2013, they actually had a version without seeds and I believe they carried this on to 2014 as well), but I didn’t care. I knew I’d like them. Not just like, I’d love them.
And I was right.
When I ordered mine, I felt like a kid dancing in front candy counter because I was just so excited. I watched them pull the skewer out of the fridge, I about died… I had no idea they were cold! It was almost 95 degrees out, deadly humidity, sun beating down on us… They really were the most perfect snack ever! That first bite was absolute heaven. Those sweet strawberries and gooey, crunchy candy shell was perfect. I didn’t even care that my teeth were sticking together and somewhere in New Hampshire my dentist was crying. It was totally worth it.
Making these at home isn’t exactly difficult, but it is really touchy. If the strawberries are too wet,
the shell doesn’t stick. If the strawberries are over-ripe, when they hit the hot liquid, they bleed and the shell doesn’t stick. I learned that if it’s too humid, the shell won’t set up right. If the liquid boils it too long, the shell gets too hard. If it boils not long enough, the shell never gets crunchy. Dip too fast, there’s no shell. Dip too slow, it’ll break your teeth to take a bite. It’s crazy how perfect conditions have to be in order for this to be as perfect as it is in EPCOT. The final product is so good, it’s worth giving it a shot.
I made this two ways, first the way that it’s served in EPCOT with 3 strawberries on a skewer, the second I dipped individual strawberries. Dipping each strawberry individually for sure got the best results. Maybe it’s because the stakes I used were too thin, but the strawberries just kept falling off and they weren’t getting the coating I like. I also found individual strawberries to be easier to eat and there was far less bleeding, which meant the crunchy coating stayed put. In the end, it’s all personal preference… Without the blast chillers that Disney uses, I think doing the three-per-stake technique they use at EPCOT is too tricky and doing one strawberry at a time gives a candied strawberry that more closely tastes like the final product they serve at EPCOT.
I didn’t make any changes to this recipe, though I did do the sesame seed-free version. Believe it or not, having the sesame seed version at EPCOT made me realize that, outside of hamburger buns, I’m just not a big fan of sesame seeds. Who knew?
As for how to eat these, the debate rages on. Some bite right into them, some people lick the candy coating off. Me, I prefer the Tootsie Pop method… Three licks and then a bite, because I can’t wait to get to the strawberry.
°o° sesame seeds (optional)
Add sugar, water, corn syrup, and balsamic vinegar into a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Continue to cook over medium or medium high heat without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 300 degrees and the liquid is an amber color and reduced by slightly more than half, about 20 minutes (watch for boil overs!). Remove from heat and allow bubbles and foam to reduce, showing the liquid, about 2 minutes. If desired, add sesame seeds.
Working quickly, dip strawberries in the sugar mixture, allowing excess to run off the tip of the strawberry. Turn strawberry several times to ensure even coating and distribution of candy shell. Place on wax paper or lightly greased aluminum foil. Place strawberries in a freezer for 15 minutes so that the coating sets, then transfer to a covered container in the fridge for storage.
Serve directly from the fridge to prevent sweating and ensure the coating stays crunchy.
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | 2017 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Loop:
- 1st Stop – The Disney Chef | Recipe from Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival
- 2nd Stop – My Dreams of Disney | Exploring the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
- 3rd Stop – Disney in Your Day | Best of the Flower and Garden Food Booths
- 4th Stop – Rolling with the Magic | Grown-Ups Guide to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival
- 5th Stop – Magical Memories with the Mouse | Garden Rocks – What Music Has to Do with the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival