Nuts about The Nutcracker

Nuts about The Nutcracker

Photos by Jenny Hawes

Celebrating the joy of Christmas, The Nutcracker ballet is a visually stunning blend of music and dance, magic, and colour. Traditionally performed throughout the world by professional and amateur ballet companies alike, the beauty and charm of this holiday event is beloved by all ages.  While this year’s live performance of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet has been cancelled once again due to the pandemic, there are definitely ways to still enjoy this holiday classic.

How much fun would it be to host your own “Nutcracker party” in the comfort of your home! Gather your friends and family and queue up one of the numerous virtual performances being scheduled for this December or one of the various other movie options available via YouTube or Netflix (see links below).

Scroll down for recipes!

Encourage your guests to dress up as if they were attending the theatre for a performance, and plan to include details from the ballet in your décor and food elements. If you are doing this as an activity for younger children, perhaps make it an afternoon event and incorporate a few games and activities that center around the story of the Nutcracker. There are so many wonderful picture book editions of The Nutcracker that you might even choose to read the story before watching the ballet.

While you may not be watching the ballet live in a theatre, you can make the experience come alive by adding fun-themed elements to your gathering. If you have some Christmas nutcrackers amongst your holiday decorations, be sure to display them along with any other themed decorations. Given the popularity of this holiday classic, it’s relatively easy to find Nutcracker-related items such as holiday crackers, napkins, paper plates, and more.  

Be sure to include “The Land of Sweets” in your Nutcracker party—the best part of the ballet and the tastiest part of your gathering. Who doesn’t love sweet treats, particularly during the holiday season? Here are a few favourites that will be sure to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings.

Sweet & Spicy Nutcracker Nuts

Ingredients:

• 1 cup walnut halves
• 1 cup pecans
• 1 cup dry roasted almonds (Feel free to substitute nuts of your choice)
• ¾  tsp salt
• ¼ tsp pepper
• ½ tsp cumin
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 cup sugar
• ¼ cup water
• 1 Tbsp butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine all nuts in a large bowl and add salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir to coat.

Heat water, butter, and sugar until butter is melted—continue to cook for approximately 1 minute. Pour over nut mixture and stir well until well coated. Spread nuts in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet (line sheet with tin foil).

Bake for 10-15 minutes. Stir nuts to ensure they are sticky and coated. Return to oven and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Turn oven off and leave in for another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool before serving.

From The Land of Sweets: Gumdrop Cookies

Ingredients:

• ¾ cup butter or margarine
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ tsp almond extract
• 1 ¾ cups flour
• ½ baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• 1 cup fruit-flavoured (or spiced gumdrops) – chopped
• 2 egg whites, room temperature

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and ¾ cups of sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add almond extract and mix well. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together and gradually add to creamed mixture. Add chopped gumdrops. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually add in the remaining ¼ sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into the dough. Drop by spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookies are golden brown.

Links for watching The Nutcracker:

• Dance Victoria Nutcracker link
• Royal Winnipeg Ballet – The Nutcracker
• Baryshnikov’s performance of The Nutcracker
• Young children: Barbie’s Nutcracker ballet

Written by

Dorothy Hawes, BA, MA, AVCM

Guest Writer