The rules behind cooking and baking are very different and it’s hard to be really good at both. Most people chose one or the other and my focus has primarily been on cooking my adult life. But the Disney Princess Baking book from Weldon Owen forced me out of my comfort zone to tackle some baking projects from scratch to give it a thorough review. Drawing courage from the inspiring heroines celebrated within this book’s pages, I rose to the occasion and gave it my all.
I have a substantial collection of fandom-based cookbooks, but this is the first baking-only book I’ve ever used. It incorporates all of the official Disney Princess characters, from Snow White through Moana, but does not include characters that haven’t had their official coronation yet, with Elsa and Anna from Frozen left out because they haven’t been inducted into the exclusive club… yet. There are over 60 recipes in the entire book, all of them sweet treats, most of which are really creative.
My philosophy when it comes to reviewing any cookbook is that I should try one recipe from each section. There are four in this book: “Cookies & Bars,” “Pies & Tarts,” “Cakes & Cupcakes” and “Morning Treats.” Below is a review of each of the four recipes I made, but before that, a word of caution.
Not For Beginners
The introduction claims that this book is perfect for anyone, regardless of whether they’re a beginner or an expert baker. I found this to be very far from the truth. Did you know that egg whites must be at room temperature if you’re trying to whip them into a meringue? If you’re an expert baker, that’s probably something you learned long ago. If you’re a beginner, how would you know? After 10 minutes of beating cold egg whites at top speed, a quick internet search pulled up the answer right away.
The instructions are also very wordy and don’t separate paragraphs for an important step. In a typical cake recipe, your first steps will be to mix wet ingredients. The next step would be clearly marked for a separate bowl to use dry ingredients. Here, they come in the same paragraph, making it easy to miss that these are separate steps. The photos included for some recipes are full-page, forcing the text to be small and cramped, which may be part of the issue. The bottom line is that the layout makes for a frustrating experience.
Ariel Clamshell Macarons
From the “Cookies & Bars” section, I wasn’t aware that macarons are one of the hardest cookies to make when I chose this recipe. I probably should’ve, given that there are macaron shops in high-rent areas of major cities that just sell the brightly colored cookies, but I never thought that much into it before. With Ariel being my favorite Disney Princess, I thought these would be cute and tasty, which they were, but not worth the effort involved to get there. The second batch came out fine (pictured above), but the first batch looked like garbage. With a white chocolate frosting between the shell-shaped cookies, the overall taste profile was similar to a creampuff. The recipes don’t list a length of time suggestion on them, which would’ve been helpful. I could spend 1 hour on creampuffs or 3 hours on these cookies.
Enchanted Rose Pies
Prominently featured on the cover from the “Pies & Tarts” chapter, these rose-shaped mini apple pies looked really yummy and fun to make. Everything here is from scratch and the dough needs to cool in the fridge before it can be baked. The apples are done separately and after thinly slicing them, you mix them in a sauce made of jam and sugar. I found the apples difficult to roll, even after heating them longer than the recipe suggests. In the end, these were tasty, but more work than a traditional apple pie and the taste wasn’t different enough to make me crave these again. Cute for a party, but otherwise impractical.
Merida Witch’s Spell Cakes
Inspired by the cake in Brave that turned Queen Elinor into a bear, these treats from “Cakes & Cupcakes” jumped out to me mainly because they’re a treat actually seen in a film rather than something inspired by a character. The cake itself was mostly made of almond byproducts and lemon flavoring with raspberry jam on top. The final result was something like an almond cornbread and I didn’t love it, but it looked cute.
Tiana’s New Orleans Beignets
Lastly, from the “Morning Treats” section came Tiana’s “Man Catchin’” beignets. This is actually the second beignet recipe I’ve made inspired by Tiana, the first being from the official The Princess and the Frog cookbook that was released in 2009. That recipe didn’t use yeast but also added a few spices to the batter like nutmeg and cinnamon to give the beignet itself a little flavor. This recipe yields 12 big beignets that were yummy and fairly traditional, cutting some of the calories found in the official Disneyland recipe.
Disney Princess Baking is perfect for an experienced baker Disney fan who loves spending extra time in the kitchen, but is far from aimed at beginners. While a few tips are included in the beginning, the layout of the instructions is frustrating. While I typically love the cookbooks from Weldon Owen’s parent company Insight Editions, this one missed the mark for me. The recipes themselves are good, but they need to be reformatted in a way that’s more practical to use.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.