Author Ashley Craft has a passion for theme parks and the tasty treats you can find there. She’a so much of a fan, in fact, that she’s written three separate cookbooks based on theme park food and drinks. Her latest is The Unofficial Universal Theme Parks Cookbook: From Moose Juice to Chicken and Waffle Sandwiches, 75+ Delicious Universal-Inspired Recipes, which came out on October 25th.
Packed with fun-filled recipes and theme park intel, Craft shows us how we can make the most beloved theme park snacks at home for cheaper than the price of admission. She’s even included a recipe for one of her favorites.
This book is so fun. Tell me the origins of your love affair with theme parks?
I have been a Disney Parks fan pretty much since I was born. I lived in Southern California as a kid and went to Disneyland about every week. Then in college, I did two internships at Walt Disney World in Florida and grew to love the Florida parks as well. My love for Universal Parks came more from a fandom standpoint for their properties. Harry Potter played a huge part in my growing up, and visiting The Wizarding World for the first time was a transformative experience. From there, I grew to love the Universal Parks as much as I love Disney. I now know the ins and outs of those parks, can easily navigate without a map and, of course, know all the best places to eat.
I’m a little jealous just thinking about all of the taste testing and research you had to do. What was that like?
It is as fun as it sounds! I visited Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort countless times to research for this book. I have a to-taste list while I’m there but keep my eyes open for anything new and fun that I want to try. Then I just taste and take a lot of notes and pictures.
How did you choose the recipes featured in the book?
I tried to pick the most popular and most ordered of all the items at Universal Parks. To find this, I ask a lot of questions of the team members working there as well as do a lot of research online to see what people are buzzing about.
Do you have a personal favorite?
I like everything, but what’s on my mind right now are the Korean Corn Dogs. So easy, so crunchy, super delicious!
What makes the perfect theme park treat?
Flavor is certainly king, because a cute look will make people buy it once, but an incredible taste will have [them] ordering it every time. Of course if you can marry the two together and have an iconic look and a delicious taste that’s the best combo. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter does a great job at this, making sweets and treats that are easily recognizable to the wizarding world, but also taste great.
Are you working on any new books or projects?
Yes. Keep watch to my Instagram account @UnofficialTasteTester for news about upcoming titles.
Korean Corn Dogs
Excerpted from The Unofficial Universal Theme Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft. Copyright © 2022 by Ashley Craft. Interior photographs by Harper Point Photography. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Mummy Eats, Universal Studios Hollywood
How is a Korean Corn Dog different from your typical American corn dog? There are a couple of key differences: First, it is rolled in panko. This gives the corn dog a special crunch, unlike smooth corn dogs. Second, there is a sprinkling of sugar at the end. If you sprinkle sugar onto a corn dog while it is still hot, the sugar melts into the crust, offering sweet notes to the corn batter. Mummy Eats serves this mouthwatering treat so that hungry guests can munch on a delicious handheld snack after braving Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride. Serve with a side of fries at home for a full meal.
6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 6 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 cup panko bread crumbs
6 beef hot dogs
1. Pour oil into a large pot over medium heat and bring to 350°F. Line a large plate with paper towels and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, baking powder, milk and egg in a medium bowl. Pour batter into a tall drinking glass 3⁄4 full (if it doesn’t all fit, refill glass when necessary). Pour panko into a shallow dish.
3. Skewer each hot dog with a wooden chopstick or ice pop stick. Dry each hot dog with a paper towel. Dunk skewered hot dogs, one at a time in the glass of batter, then roll in panko.
4. Carefully lower battered hot dogs into hot oil (only fry 1 or 2 at a time to avoid dropping oil temperature) and fry 2–3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat for all hot dogs.
6. Remove from oil onto a paper towel–lined plate and sprinkle each corn dog with 1 teaspoon sugar. Serve immediately.
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