When it comes to Walt Disney World dining, we’ve long been “staunch snacking advocates.” Obviously, attractions are the primary reason most people book trips, but the parks are much more than simply a collection of rides. (Otherwise, you might as well go to Six Flags or Cedar Point.) Among other things, there’s entertainment, themed design, and even snacking that rounds things out.
Since reopening, some of what helps define the whole of the Walt Disney World experience have been missing. Most shows are not running and atmospheric acts are on hiatus. On the dining front, some snack stands remain shuttered (at least on weekdays) and almost all others are operating with significantly scaled back menus.
Through this all, there has been one Walt Disney World snacking stalwart. A sugary oasis in a dessert desert. Okay, all of that is definitely hyperbole, but there has been one standout bakery that has delivered hit after hit for us in the last few months, and it’s time to finally give this EPCOT sweet treat spot its long overdue accolades…
We’re talking about Karamell-Küche in EPCOT’s World Showcase Germany pavilion. Despite having a wide range of dining reviews for locations as obscure as a waffle window at Tokyo Disneyland, embarrassingly enough, we have never published a Karamell-Küche review. Like many other restaurants, I’ve used the “just one more visit” excuse to justify postponing the review–and doing more “research.” In the process, several of the photos in my saved draft post have been rendered obsolete and removed due to menu changes over the years.
The delaying ends today. Not just because our review of Walt Disney World’s best overall snack spot is long overdue or given that we’ve done a few recent “meals” here. Because Karamell-Küche is currently home to the single best sweet treat in all of Walt Disney World, and anyone visiting for the Christmas season needs to know about this!
Before we dig into the desserts on the menu at Karamell-Küche, let’s begin with some quick background. In the long arc of Walt Disney World history, Karamell-Küche is still a relative newcomer, debuting roughly a decade ago in the Germany pavilion in partnership with Storck, the makers of Werther’s Original Caramels.
Karamell-Küche translates to Caramel Kitchen in German and the shop took the place of Glas und Porzellan. The intimate location is modeled after an old-world German caramel kitchen, much like the company’s first shop in Werther, Germany that opened in 1903. It opened as the only freestanding retail location in the world for Storck.
One of the main reasons we’ve been dining so much at Karamell-Küche lately is because the location has been offering the merchandise discount rate to Annual Passholders.
That discount is valid on the Werther’s Original caramel popcorn on the shelves, as well as everything in the display cases. Up until the start of this month, that meant 30% off! (Since that’s already been offered twice now, we’re hopeful it’ll return again after APs stock up on Christmas stuff.)
Normally, Karamell-Küche also participates in the Disney Dining Plan, with almost everything in the display cases being redeemable for a snack credit. While that is temporarily suspended, we’re still expecting the Disney Dining Plan to return at some point in 2021.
Aside from the Caramel Apples, most of the items at Karamell-Küche are an objectively poor use of Disney Dining Plan snack credits. That’s good for those paying out of pocket (literally anyone right now), as most other items are in the $4-5 range.
Turning to reviews of the items we’ve tried recently, let’s get the worst out of the way first: the Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookie with Pecan.
This is one of the longer-running items at Karamell-Küche, although, as with several other desserts, it has been tweaked over the years. The latest iteration is missing the generous drizzle of caramel and consequently is a bit lacking in the flavor department. (Words you’ll only see once in this review.) It’s still good by oatmeal cookie standards, but doesn’t rise to the high(ly decadent) bar of Karamell-Küche.
Continuing with cookies, we have the Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookie.
This item is also missing the drizzle right now, but a hearty amount of caramel inside (plus the general superiority of chocolate cookies over oatmeal ones) makes it a winner.
Next, the Werther’s Caramel Butter Bar. This is another item that has evolved over the years, with previous incarnations having the words “Shortbread” and/or “Chewy” in the name.
It’s definitely still both of those things, but the recipe has changed. Once a Walt Disney World fan favorite, it’s now more divisive, with some believing its too buttery and others believing it’s just right with a variety of textures and melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. I happen to fall firmly in the latter camp, and I’m not normally one for overly-indulgent Disney desserts.
Ultimately, I’d strongly recommend buying it to find out where you stand on the Caramel Butter Bar, as the upside potential is incredibly high. Perhaps it’ll be too much for you–a disappointment. On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, it could be one of your very favorite snacks at Walt Disney World.
Finally, the main event. Karamell-Küche has brought back the Werther’s Pumpkin Cupcake with Salted Caramel Buttercream for fall and kicked off the Christmas season early (by EPCOT standards) with the Gingerbread Salted Caramel Buttercream Cookie Sandwich.
And here we thought L’Artisan des Glaces was a lock for EPCOT’s pumpkin and gingerbread snack MVP award. Not since Lemieux and Jagr has the world seen this dynamic of a duo. (I was going to go with Shaq and Kobe, the more international flair of Lemieux and Jagr seems more apt for this comparison.)
Given our penchant for pumpkin, it’d be totally reasonable to assume the “best snack at Walt Disney World” title we teased above was in reference to the Werther’s Pumpkin Cupcake with Salted Caramel Buttercream. And at literally any other park right now, this would be the #1 snack.
The buttercream is rich and delicious, the pumpkin base is fresh and flavorful, and there’s just the right amount of salt and caramel. It culminates into something special, and with a high quality unlike any other cupcake at Walt Disney World. It’s an absolute must-order…but it is not the best snack.
The undisputed MVP here is the Gingerbread Salted Caramel Buttercream Cookie Sandwich. (So maybe this duo is more like Jordan and Pippen, with both being great but one obviously better.)
This cookie sandwich is nothing short of a revelation. I cannot even fully articulate how or why this is so good, but it is.
The easiest way to describe it is probably via comparison to the Carrot Cake Cookie (pictured above), one of the most iconic and best snacks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Setting aside obvious differences in flavor profiles, the Carrot Cake Cookie is like the Big Mac and the Gingerbread Salted Caramel Buttercream Cookie Sandwich is like a Double Double from In-N-Out Burger (or a ShackBurger, if that’s more your style).
Don’t get me wrong, the Big Mac is addictively good and it’s a guilty pleasure that I love, but it doesn’t hold up to its upmarket rivals when compared side by side. It’s the same deal here for the Gingerbread Salted Caramel Buttercream Cookie Sandwich.
This thing is off the charts, with more nuanced flavor, better texture, and decisively higher overall quality. The sandwich features thick and chewy gingerbread cookies stacked with a heavy helping of buttercream and liberal layer of caramel. All of this melds into the superlative snack at Walt Disney World, simultaneously sweet, buttery, salty, creamy, and zingy. Again, words and photos truly don’t do it justice–you’ll just have to taste it.
Ultimately, Karamell-Küche is a snack spot without equal at Walt Disney World. While there are plenty of other great bakeries that serve up a handful of exceptional items (including Kringla Bakeri og Kafe and Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie in World Showcase), nowhere else is as consistently excellent.
There’s nowhere else at Walt Disney World where I’ll order literally anything new on the menu–no matter what it is–because it’ll probably be delicious. This has been true many times in the past even with items that didn’t sound like they’d be to my tastes. I’d say that Karamell-Küche is full of surprises…but it’s really not. Almost everything here is fantastic. Going forward, we’ll do a better job of providing regular updates on the latest menu updates at Karamell-Küche. (Its recipes and rotation do change frequently!)
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Have you tried Karamell-Küche? Favorite snacks on the menu here? Anything you think has changed for the better or worse as the menu at Karamell-Küche has “evolved” since its opening? Thoughts on the new pumpkin and gingerbread seasonal items? Considering trying this spot? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!