Everything Nutcracker

Power Through 'Nutcracker' with Jenelle Manzi's Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Energy Fudge and Maple Bars

Courtesy of Manzi

Ballet and baking have more in common than their first two letters. As in the studio, sometimes you attempt something new in the kitchen and it works out great.

And, sometimes, it fails spectacularly—an outcome that New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi is no stranger to in baking. "The first time I tried to make vanilla cupcakes with this strawberry rose frosting, I was using essential rose oil," she recalls, "I put two drops in an entire batch of icing and I realized I needed about a quarter of a drop. They tasted like perfume. They were completely inedible."

via Instagram


Manzi has since mastered her strawberry rose frosting's delicate flavor balance, as well as plenty of other recipes for healthy snacks and indulgent treats. She cut gluten out of her diet out of necessity, but she's a passionate proponent for conscious eating whether or not you have certain allergies or intolerances. Her recipes are full of wholesome, nutritious ingredients to power her busy life at NYCB, particularly during Nutcracker season (during which she runs the snow scene as many as four times in one day in rehearsal and performance!).

While you'll find plenty of picture-perfect recipes on her website and Instagram, Manzi shared two treats exclusively for Pointe readers: "Two delicious ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your energy levels during the busy Nutcracker season!"

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Energy Fudge spiked with Spirulina

Courtesy of Manzi

This recipe is inspired by the fond memories I have of getting peppermint hot chocolate before ballet class when I was younger. I've always loved the flavor combination of chocolate and mint, particularly around the holidays. These drinks unfortunately tend to be loaded with sugar, which is not always the best thing for a dancer's energy levels. With this fudge, I tried to lower the sugar content so that it still tastes decadent, but it does not give you the quick energy spike and dreaded crash afterwards. I also added a tablespoon of spirulina to give it a little extra nutritional boost!

Ingredients:
9-10 oz unsweetened good quality chocolate (Scharffen Berger is a good choice)

¾ cup nut butter (try cashew, almond, pumpkin etc.)

¼ cup coconut oil

¼ cup maple syrup

3 medjool dates

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp peppermint extract

¼ tsp sea salt

1 tbs spirulina powder

2 tbs arrowroot starch/flour

1 tbs cacao nibs for topping

Method:

  1. Line a 9x5 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Using a double boiler or makeshift double boiler (bowl set on top of a pot) melt the chocolate and coconut oil until silky smooth.
  3. Next, add the nut butter, maple syrup, dates, vanilla, peppermint, salt, spirulina, and arrowroot into the food processor.
  4. Carefully pour in the melted chocolate mixture and mix everything until smooth and thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
  5. If the mixture is too thick, simply thin with a touch more maple syrup or coconut oil.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Smooth out the top, and sprinkle with cacao nibs (optional).
  7. Place your fudge in the freezer for about 20 minutes to allow it to set. Cut into small even squares and either enjoy right away or store in the refrigerator for about 1 week. You can also store the fudge in the freezer for up to a month. The fudge is best enjoyed at room temperature!

Cranberry Macadamia Maple Bars

Courtesy of Manzi

These bars are naturally sweet, a touch salty, and reminiscent of my favorite cookie combination - white chocolate cranberry macadamia! While the search continues for dairy and refined sugar free white chocolate chips to add to the recipe, these bars combine healthy fats with an abundance of satisfying flavors that are perfect for a quick midday pick me up!

Ingredients:
1½ cups chopped macadamia nuts

½ cup chopped cashew

½ cup chopped pumpkin seeds

½ cup of puffed brown rice finely ground

1 cup puffed brown rice

1 tbs ground flaxseed

½ cup brown rice syrup

2 tbs coconut butter

1-2 tbs maple sugar

2 tbs lucuma (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp sea salt

⅓ cup dried cranberry

**If you're feeling more indulgent, you can add in some white chocolate chips

Method:

1. Set oven to 350°F

2. Prepare a square 9" glass baking dish lined with parchment paper

3. Mix all of the dry ingredients together (besides lucuma powder) in a large bowl.

4. Using a double boiler or saucepan, add in your brown rice syrup, coconut butter, lucuma, and vanilla - warm and stir until they are silky smooth.

5. Spoon the caramel-like mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with your hands until fully combined.

6. Split into two batches and press each batch as flat as possible into the baking dish.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

8. Let cool slightly and cut into rectangular bars.

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Angela Sterling, Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

Clear your schedule now for Monday, January 29th, 2:45PM (EST)/ 11:45AM (PST). Pacific Northwest Ballet will be live-streaming rehearsal from Kent Stowell's Swan Lake, straight from their Seattle, WA-based studios. To psych us up for their on stage performances February 2nd - 11th, PNB is letting us in on their Act II rehearsal.

From the corps of swans to Odette and Prince Siegfried's pas de deux, and the infamous four swans, this rehearsal is not to be missed. You can sign up now for a live-stream reminder on their site. In the meantime, we'll be brushing up on our Cygnets with this PNB sneak peek.

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Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.

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2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes. "Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.

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As a young student at a small ballet school in upstate New York, I was obsessed with getting into the School of American Ballet. From the age of 10, I entered class each day with the ultimate goal of studying at SAB dangling before me like a carrot on a stick. Every effort I made, every extra class I took was for the sole purpose of getting into what I thought was the only ballet school that really mattered.

I auditioned for SAB's summer program for the first time when I was 12. In the weeks that followed, I became a vulture hovering over my family's mail, squawking at my mother if the day's letters were not presented for my inspection when I walked through the door. The day the letter finally arrived, it was thin and limp. I cried for a week as I dealt with the crushing feeling of rejection for one of the first times in my life.

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