What Dancers Eat

We're Loving These Nutcracker-Themed Holiday Treats

'Tis the season to have some fun in the kitchen. If you want to get more creative than simply baking another pumpkin pie, try these Nutcracker-themed treats—created by and for dancers. These recipes from former Boston Ballet and Joffrey Ballet dancers were first published in Dance Magazine's December 1990 issue. Today, they're still guaranteed to turn any holiday party or dressing room into a true Land of the Sweets.



Mother Ginger Snaps

Courtesy Boston Ballet

Sift together:

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp each: ground ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon

In a separate bowl mix:

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

Mix together wet and dry ingredients. Blend until dough is smooth. With a teaspoon, form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes until brown. Let stand for five minutes, then remove cookies carefully. Yields four to five dozen.


Marzipan Soldiers

American Ballet Theatre soldiers, via BAM

Mix in a medium bowl:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch or potato flour
  • 2 3/4 cup extrafine sugar
  • 8 egg whites (add two at a time, beating well after each addition)
  • 3/4 pound finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 pound finely chopped candied orange peel

Press mixture through the cone of a pastry tube onto a buttered and floured baking sheet, using a decorative tip to create the shape of a soldier (1 1/2 inches across at most). Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove carefully from sheet while marzipan is still hot. May be decorated with colored sugar. Yields four to five dozen.


Waltz of the Flower Petals

San Francisco Ballet in Waltz of the Flowers. Photo by Erik Tomasson

  • 3 dozen unsprayed rose, violet or other flower petals
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup superfine sugar

Choose the petals for color and beauty of shape and make sure they are completely dry. Beat the egg white very lightly. Brush each petal with egg white on both sides and dip it lightly in the sugar. Put the petals on cake racks and dry them in a cool, dry place for two to three hours or overnight. Use as decorations for cakes or pastries.


Mouse King's Cheesecake

Pacific Northwest Ballet's mouse king. Photo by Angela Sterling.

Crust:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon rind

Mix together in bowl and put in refrigerator for 30 minutes, then press into an ungreased glass baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Filling:

  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • raisins, if desired

Place cream cheese in a bowl and let stand for several hours at room temperature until very soft. Mix in sugar and yolks. Beat whites until stiff and fold into batter, a little at a time. Add vanilla and raisins, if desired. Pour into baked crust and bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees.


Russian Tea

English National Ballet's Fernando Bufala. Photo by Dave Morgan

Brew strong tea. Place 1 tsp whole black cherry preserves or red plum preserves in a glass, and then fill glass with the tea.


Frothy Spanish Cocoa

San Francisco Ballet, photo by Erik Tomasson

Whip cocoa and hot low-fat milk in a blender. Garnish with a zest of orange, cinnamon or a toasted marshmallow.


Fragrant Arabian Coffee

Oregon Ballet Theatre's Kathi Martuza, photo by Blaine Truitt Covert

Brew strong coffee. Crush four cardamom seeds in a cup and add zest of lemon before pouring coffee into cup.

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