Land of the Sweets

Three Rockettes share their favorite dancer-friendly holiday treats.

Angela Cranford/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG.

With holiday performances in full force, December can be a thrilling yet exhausting month for dancers. The Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular may be the busiest of all: They perform up to four 90-minute shows a day during a run that starts before Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until after New Year’s. How do they fuel all those high kicks? Three shared their favorite recipes for holiday treats that give them energy—and satisfy their sweet tooth. —Jennifer Stahl

Sarah Staker Rockette since 2010

“I’ve always brought this to the dressing room the day after Thanksgiving—we can use the sugar and carb boost. Plus, it makes me feel like I have a piece of home with me no matter where I’m celebrating the holidays.” 

My Great-Grandma’s Pumpkin Cake



4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups flour (not sifted)

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon 

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla 


8 oz. cream cheese

1 stick of butter

4 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. vanilla 


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar; beat well.

3. Add oil, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin and vanilla; beat well.

4. Pour in a 13x9-inch pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick.

5. For the icing, beat softened cream cheese and butter, add sugar and blend until smooth. Mix in vanilla.

6. Let cake cool completely before spreading icing. Chill until serving.

Katelyn Gaffney Rockette since 2010

Angela Cranford/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG

“I’m usually craving something sweet after a show. But I know how important it is to get some protein right away, so I eat one of these. The oats are a great source of carbohydrates and the bananas provide potassium. I once brought a huge batch into athletic training after a show—all of them were devoured within the first few minutes of our ice bath.”

Banana Oatmeal Cookies


4 ripe bananas

1 cup oats

4 scoops protein powder

1 tbsp. peanut butter or PB2 powder (optional)

Cacao nibs or chocolate chips (to taste)


1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Mix in the oats, protein powder and peanut butter. The mixture should become doughlike. Then, add in your cacao nibs or chocolate chips.

3. Grease a large cookie sheet. Make 1-inch balls of dough and place them on the sheet a few inches apart.

4. Bake for 20 minutes.

5. Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes.

Christine Sienicki Rockette since 2000

“When I was younger, my aunt would make peanut butter cups for every holiday party. I’ve taken over the tradition and added my own healthy twist using raw ingredients and sugar substitutions (dates and agave). I have them as a treat between performances and bring them to parties. No one knows they’re healthy!”

Peanut Butter Fudge Cups


Nut-fudge base:

1/4 cup pecans (or any nut of your choice)

1/4 cup walnuts (or any nut of your choice)

2 tbsp. raw cacao powder

8 medjool dates

Sea salt (to taste)

Peanut butter layer:

20 medjool dates

1/4 cup peanut butter

2 tbsp. almond milk

Raw chocolate topping (eyeball amounts based on how much you need to make it level with the top of the muffin pan):

1 part agave

2 parts raw cacao powder

1 part melted coconut oil

Sea salt


1. Combine the nuts, cacao powder and a pinch of sea salt in a food processer and mix until fine.

2. Add 8 medjool dates and process until fully mixed.

3. Form mixture into balls and spread into the bottom of a 6-cup muffin pan.

4. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes.

5. For the peanut butter layer, combine 20 dates, peanut butter and almond milk in the food processer and mix until smooth.

6. Spread the mixture on top of the frozen nut-fudge base and freeze.

7. For the raw chocolate topping, mix the agave, cacao powder and coconut oil until smooth.

8. Pour the mixture on top of the peanut butter layer and top with sea salt.

9. Put muffin tin in freezer until peanut butter cup is fully frozen.

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