Ancho Chile Brownie Cookies

The Backstage Baker is still in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater.  But now that tech and previews for Rain are over, he’s had time to bake again.  As he told me, “Inspired by the tastes and flavors of being so close to Mexico I made some Ancho Chili Brownie Cookies.”

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Ancho-Chile Brownie Cookies on the tech table.  (Headset, God mic and Altoids to the right.)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 healthy teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 -3/4  teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper (depending how much heat you like)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground chile pepper. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter and margarine. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Stir until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces and almonds.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm.

Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool.

Makes about 4 dozen

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Cast members Betsy Morgan, Marie-France Arcilla, Jeremy Davis, Rusty Ross, Mike Sears, Eden Espinosa the final day in the rehearsal room. Rehearsal set in the background.

 

Hamantaschen

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Caroline here, hijacking the Backstage Baker’s blog to share a recipe I’m baking right now.

I’ll celebrate any holiday if it involves baking.  And today is one of my all-time favorite holidays – Purim – because it features the delectable pastry (pictured above) called hamantaschen.  (For those unfamiliar with them, hamentaschen are a sweet pastry/cookie filled with apricot, prune or poppy seed jams.)

Now, in case you don’t know, Purim is a Jewish holiday.   Described in the book of Esther, it celebrates the escape of the Jewish people from the annihilation planned by the evil Haman.  Long story short (and the long story involves people named Ahasuerus, Xerxes, Zeresh and many, many others) Haman was hanged on the very gallows that he’d built to exterminate the Jews, so Purim is a joyous holiday, full of festivities, costumes and fun.  I’m not quite sure why triangular pastries have such significance – some say they represent Haman’s ears, others that they resemble the pyramidal dice Haman used to decide the day of destruction, and still others say they look like popular hats worn back in 500 BC.  Regardless, they are unique and delicious!

Hamen Taschen
(Note, you’ll get the best results if you can refrigerate this dough overnight.  I’ve only been that organized once, but it really is worth it.)

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (extracted from above orange)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Apricot, prune, poppy seed fillings (you can find these in the baking section of your grocery store)

Method:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Add orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract and 2 eggs.

3. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Slowly add to butter mixture until just combined.

4. Divide dough into thirds, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Remove each chunk of dough one at a time and roll to 1/8” thickness.  With a 3” round cutter, cut out as many circles as possible and place on a cookie sheet. Whisk remaining egg and brush on edges of circles.  Put one teaspoon of filling in the middle of each dough circle and fold in sides to form a triangle.  Pinch the corners well to ensure the pastry keeps its shape when baking.  Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Bake until golden, 12 – 15 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then remove to racks.

Makes about 40.

Sadie Thompson Brownies (now with more cherry!)

The Backstage Baker has gone Hollywood!  Well, sort of.  He’s in San Diego at the Old Globe Theater stage managing a new musical called Rain.  (Read more about it here.)

It seems only fitting, and just a little bit naughty, to share this recipe for Cherry Brownies, herewith renamed “Sadie Thompson Brownies,” that James served at his first Wine and Unwind for the cast and creatives of Rain at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

Now Rain has had a long and storied history both onstage and on film.  Based on a scandalous 1921 short story written by Somerset Maugham about a prostitute named Sadie Thompson and the missionary who rapes her (okay, I’m taking gigantic liberties with the intricate plot)  it first premiered as a Broadway show in 1923 with Jeanne Eagels starring as Sadie Thompson. (Lee Strasberg called her Sadie “One of the great performances of my theater-going experience . . .  An inner, almost mystic flame engulfed Eagels and it seemed as if she had been brought up to some new dimension of being.”  This from the man known as the Father of Method Acting!)  In 1928, Gloria Swanson produced and starred in the silent picture version called Sadie Thompson.  Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth also starred in later iterations of this story.

It’s a plum, er, a cherry of a role!

(For those of you who want to know, the wine was a Sangiovese with a hint of cherry.)

Sadie Thompson Brownies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees . Grease a 9 x13 inch pan and then dust with cocoa powder for extra chocolatey-ness. (You can use flour instead if you prefer.)

In a large bowl, stir together the cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup vegetable oil and boiling water. Mix until well blended and thickened. IT will get thick!  Stir in the sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup oil. Finally, add the flour, vanilla and salt; mix just until all of the flour is absorbed. Add the cherries. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Cherry Brownies1
The actor Tally Sessions who plays Alec MacPhail. Costume research in the background.

CherryBrownies2
The director Barry Edelstein

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The actress Betsy Morgan who plays Louisa MacPhail and the pan of disappearing brownies. She was recently in Michael John LaChiusa’s FIRST DAUGHTER SUITE at The Public.

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Associate Music Director Tim Splain, Actor Jeremy Davis who plays Jo, and book writer Sybille Pearson. Scenic ground plans on the back wall.

 

Sophie’s Baklava

Sophie Ann CarusoSophia Ann Caruso and a pan of Baklava she made for the cast and crew of LAZARUS. Notice the large bag of Carnation Instant Milk behind her … that was part of the mixture for her angel blood at the end of the show.  

Our Backstage Baker’s most recent show, LAZARUS, closed on January 20, 2016, and what a run it was.  I was lucky enough to see the show just before it opened.  And (I am so sorry to admit this now) I frankly didn’t get it.  In fact, I didn’t get it to the extent that I was wildly annoyed by the show.  I liked the music, the production was impeccable, and the cast of supremely talented actors did yeoman’s work.  But I felt that all they were doing was presenting a pretentious, self-indulgent show designed to trick the audience into liking it just because David Bowie was connected to it.  “Emperor’s new clothes”  I thought, when I read all the respectful reviews.

But I saw it before the news of David Bowie’s death changed everything.  Learning that he had created this show while he was slowly approaching the end of his life suddenly made everything snap into place.  My perception of the show literally transformed in that moment when I understood the context of its creation.   And that moment was, in itself, another puff of theatricality, of life, for a show that had been seen weeks earlier and filed away.  It added dense layers to a project that had previously been seen as just an exasperating piece of performance art accompanied by some catchy tunes.

So, I can’t let LAZARUS go without posting this gorgeous recipe for baklava.  Somehow baklava, that sticky, heavily layered Greek pastry, is the perfect pastry-metaphor for this show. (Wikipedia even tells me that that word baklava comes from the Mongolian which means “to tie or wrap up.”)  I won’t beat you over the head with an explanation, (I mean “pastry-metaphor” is already pushing it,) but if you were lucky enough to see LAZARUS, I think you’ll know what I mean.  (If not, you can always download the cast album soon and perhaps get a sense of what I’m talking about.)

This recipes comes from the ethereal Sophie Ann Caruso who played The Girl — the angel who tries to save the lead character, Thomas Newton, and bring him home, but ends up dying center stage in a pool of snow white blood.  Yeah, it was that sort of show.

Sophia’s Baklava

Ingredients:
for orange honey syrup
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 medium orange (reserve the halves)
3/4 cup honey

for pastry and filling
1 lb phyllo pastry sheets
1 cup melted butter (that’s two sticks)
2 cups whole walnuts
1 cup unsalted pistachios. plus more roughly chopped for garnish
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (scant)

Method:

for the syrup
In medium saucepan stir together the sugar, OJ and 3/4 cup water.  Add the juiced halves.

Set saucepan over medium hear and bring to a boil. Stir often until sugar is dissolved.

Stir in honey and lower heat to medium low. Simmer 7-10 minutes until slightly thickened.

Pour the hot syrup through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Press firmly on the solids to get any liquid, then discard the solids.

Allow mixture to cool 30 minutes at room temperature before moving bowl to refrigerator to cool completely.

for the pastry
Position a rack on the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, then set aside.

Cut phyllo to fit pan snugly and cover stack with a damp dish cloth. Lay one sheet of phyllo in pan and gently brush with melted butter. **NOTE:  keep stirring the melted butter during this process so the solids don’t separate.**   Add a second sheet and brush with more butter. Repeat with six more sheets.

Pulse about half the walnuts and pistachios with sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until they are course crumbs. Pulse the rest of the nuts. Sprinkle an even layer of nuts over the buttered phyllo.

Layer and butter another four sheets of phyllo and sprinkle them with nuts. Repeat this step twice. You will have used 20 sheets of dough.

Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top and butter and layer another 8 sheets of phyllo. You will have used 28 sheets.

Brush butter over top layer, cover pan and refrigerate 10 minutes.

Take pan out of refrigerator. Carefully cut the layered dough with a sharp knife diagonally into 1 1/2 inch rectangles. Cut diagonally the other way to make diamond shaped pieces. Be careful not to shift the phyllo sheets while cutting.
Bake for 45-55 minutes until the pastry is lightly bronzed.

While the baklava is still hot pour half of the cold syrup evenly over the top. Allow the syrup a few minutes to seep into the pastry. Pour the remaining syrup over the pastry.
Garnish with roughly chopped pistachios. Set it aside to cool before serving. Ideally it should sit 8 hours to let the flavors meld (but 4 hours will do if you are impatient).

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet 1

Lazarus opened last night (here’s Ben Brantley’s review here) and it seems appropriate to share the recipe for the Backstage Baker’s dramatic birthday cake for Michael Esper.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened, cocoa powder (plus more for dusting pans)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk substitute one cup milk less one tablespoon  and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes.)
2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1-2 oz. red food coloring, depends how deep you want the color
1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
½ cup of plain hot coffee (don’t skip this ingredient)

Frosting:

2 (8 oz) packs cream cheese, softened
¼ cup milk, made need more
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and vegetable oil.
4. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring until combined. Stir in the coffee and white vinegar.
5. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients a little at time, mixing after each addition, just until combined.
6. Generously grease two round, 9 inch cake pans with shortening and dust with cocoa.
7. Pour the batter evenly into each pan.
8. Bake in the middle rack for 30-40 minutes (check at 30 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake as cake will continue to cook as it cools.
9. Let pans cool on a cooling rack until the pans are warm to the touch.
Slide a knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to loosen the cake from the pan.
10.Remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool. These are moist cakes so I refrigerated them before icing.
11.Frost the cake with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).

Frosting Recipe:
Add softened cream cheese into large bowl.
Pour in milk, butter and vanilla extract.
Mix until well combined.
Pour in half of the powdered sugar.
Mix until combined.
Add the remaining powdered sugar.
Mix until smooth and fluffy.
Reserve about a cup of the frosting and tint with red food coloring until it achieves just the right bloody shade.  Artistically dollop on and around cake as it pleases your murderous eye.

 


Red Velvet 2
Production Assistant Rachel Zucker, Michael C. Hall and birthday boy Michael Esper

Red Velvet 3

Nutty Naughty Bars

Naught Bars

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,
Santa Claus is coming to town!

 I think naughty is the way to go, don’t you?

After a brief hiatus, the Backstage Baker returns with an indulgent treat suitable for the season.  He served them last week at the first Wine and Unwind for the cast and crew of Lazarus, the new musical currently on at the New York Theater Workshop.  By David Bowie and Enda Walsh, directed by Ivo Van Hove and starring Michael C. Hall, it’s based on the novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”  Let’s just say Book of Mormon it ain’t!  But go see it, if you can get tickets.  (Which you can’t because it’s sold out.)  Maybe it’ll move to Broadway . . .

James tells me that this recipe comes from his cousin Patti who lives in Ghana.  Here are her notes:
Be sure to add macadamia nuts cut in half, and whole or pieces of
cashews to the mix. I add a bit more vanilla than they mention. These
bars are good without the nuts, but when I make them with nuts, people
are actually rolling their eyes and moaning when they bite in.
Cambodians and Africans too,  flip for these bars. My driver gobbles
them, so I have to freeze half as soon as they cool, or I wouldn’t
have any for myself.

Life is different in Ghana, no?

Naughty Bars

2 sticks butter (1 cup)
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup combination of macadamia nuts and cashews

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13-inch pan with butter and set aside.

In a large microwave-safe glass bowl, melt the butter on high for 30 seconds (or until butter is almost completely melted), covering the bowl with a paper towel to avoid splatters.

Using a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, mix in the brown sugar and stir until combined. Add the baking powder, salt and vanilla — mix well. Gradually add the flour —the batter will be stiff – and mix until completely incorporated. Whisk the eggs well in a small bowl, and then add to the batter, mixing well one last time.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan (a spatula works well for this) and bake until golden around the edges and the center is still soft, about 30 minutes.

DO NOT OVER BAKE!

Let cool completely before cutting into small squares. They go together quickly and there are NEVER any left over!

Michael Esper
Michael Esper who plays Valentine enjoying some naughtiness

 

Cristin MillotiCristin Milioti who play Elly tasting the Naughty Bars.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake


Chocolate Red Wine Cake

 Chocolate. Red wine.  What else do you need?

James celebrated his first Wine and Unwind with the cast of Cymbelinecombining the Wine and the Unwind in one cake.  (I’m sure, however, that there was some wine served separately, but the efficiency of this appeals to the stage manager in me.)

He tells me “This a not too sweet cake that goes great with vanilla ice cream or gelato, based on a recipe from Anne Willan’s 2001 book Cooking with Wine. There is just enough wine to give it a wonderful flavor!”

I know I like chocolate, and I like red wine, and I like both together.  So how can this cake go wrong?

Chocolate Red Wine Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)* plus some for dusting.
1 1/4 teaspoons  baking soda
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups  sugar
2  large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups  dry red wine
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Whipped cream or ice cream for serving

Method:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and dust a 12-cup Bundt pan with powdered cocoa. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

2.  In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated.

3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Kate Burton Queen and Belarius
Kate Burton, who plays the Queen and Belarius, unwinding

Patrick Page who plays the title role Cymbeline and Raul Esparza who play Iachimo

Patrick Page, who plays Cymbeline, and Raul Esparza, who plays Iachimo, taking their wining and unwinding very seriously.

*What is Dutch process cocoa?  What is non-Dutch process cocoa?  And why does it matter? 

Non-Dutch process is simply natural cocoa powder:  the dry, solid remains of fermented, dried and roasted cacao beans that have been ground into a fine powder.  It is slightly acidic with, if you’re a complete nerd, a PH between 5-6.

Dutch process, on the other hand, is natural cocoa powder that has been washed with a potassium carbonate solution to alkalize it slightly.

Who cares, right?  And what difference does it make to my cake?

Well, successful baking is more than a little bit of a science.  In order for cakes to rise properly, you need the proper balance of acid and alkaline in your batter.  If, as in this recipe, you’re only using baking soda to make your cake rise, then you want the slightly acidic natural cocoa because baking soda is alkalizing (it’s why you take a teaspoonful in water if you suffer from acid indigestion.)

Anyway, long story short, you really can use either kind of cocoa no matter what, but to make the ideal version of whatever you’re baking, stick to what the recipe says.  

4th of July cake

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Okay, I’m finally posting the recipe and directions for the divine and very impressive 4th of July Flag cake James made last year. Until I saw him do it, I would have thought it was far too difficult and never gotten farther than looking at the recipe online.  But as you can see below, the recipe itself is super easy, it’s just the putting it together that’s a challenge.  If you like puzzles, you’ll be in heaven.  If you don’t, well, you can just stuff handfuls of cake and frosting in your mouth.

Give it a try!

4th of July Flag Cake

Ingredients:

Three vanilla cake mixes (+ eggs, oil and whatever else they call for) — read the box and get the extra items before you leave the store.  You could of course make the cakes from scratch, but why?

Two containers of vanilla frosting. Any standard-sized store brand will do. (You won’t need all the frosting in both containers, but you’ll need more than one.)

One bottle of red food dye and one bottle of blue food dye.  You know, the little ones that come in the red, yellow, green, blue pack.

2 9″ cake pans.  You will, of course be making six cakes total, so budget your time accordingly.

A bowl or tin or anything with a 4″ diameter for cutting cake

Method:

First, read this all the way through before you start.  Seriously.

1.  Bake two 9″ vanilla cakes as directed on the mix box.  Add the entire bottle of red food coloring to batter as you mix it for 2 minutes.  Don’t even think about the perils of red dye #2 or whatever the current toxic number is.  You want to celebrate America, don’t you?

2.  Bake two more 9″ vanilla cakes as directed on the (second) mix box.  Do not add any color.

3.  Bake TWO MORE 9″ vanilla cakes. (See what I mean about budgeting your time?)  Pour half of the batter into the cake pan, then pour blue food coloring into remaining batter.  Use as much as necessary to achieve the proper blue color — I found I only need 1/2 a bottle, but perhaps my America blue is different from yours.  Experiment.

3.  Once you’ve baked and cooled all six cakes, let the cake puzzle assembly challenge begin!  (Note:  You will have extra cake layers that go unused in this recipe.  Cut them into cubes and then freeze them.  I will post a recipe for Patriotic Trifle shortly.)

4.  First, set up your cake stand/plate by placing four strips of wax papers around the edges in a square shape.  Put a dab of icing in the middle of the square to anchor the bottom cake layer.

5.  Slice one red cake in half horizontally to make two red layers.  Then slice one white cake the same way to make two white layers.

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6.  Place one red layer on the cake stand and frost.  Then place a white layer on top and frost.  Repeat with one more red and white layer.  Frost the top white layer.

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7.   Now, take your blue layer (do not slice this layer in half horizontally!).  Using your 4″ bowl or tin, cut a 4″ circle down into the cake.  Remove blue cake plug and set aside.  Place blue layer with the center missing on top of red/white layers.

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8.  Okay, still with me?  You should have one unsliced red and one unsliced white cake left.   Go ahead and slice them horizontally now. (You could do this step earlier when you slice the other ones — I just did it now because it kept things a little more organized in my head.)  Take one of the half slices of red and cut out a 4″ circle.  Do the same with the white half slice. Put the leftover cake aside.

Frost the top of the 4″ white circle and insert it into the blue cake.

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9.  Insert the red 4″ circle into the blue cake and you are finished assembling the cake!

10.  Now you’re ready to start frosting.  Brush off any excess crumbs (easier said than done, but do your best.)  Put a big glop of icing on top of the cake and start spreading it around.  (An offset spatula is really useful here.)

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11.  James likes to make attractive, Betty Crocker-like swooshes with his frosting:

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Ta da! ‘Merica!

IMG_1708Of course, now that I’m finally posting this, I think maybe a rainbow cake would really be the thing for this holiday.  Hmm . . .

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chai-spiced Zucchini Muffins

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Mmm!  James just started rehearsal for Cymbeline, the second show at the Delacorte Theater this summer.  You know, the Delacorte in Central Park where Joe Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park has put on outdoor summer shows for decades.   The Delacorte, where you can’t possibly get a ticket unless you win the lottery, hire someone to sleep online for you overnight, know someone, or donate a pile of dough to the Public.  But outdoor Shakespeare for the people is a lovely ideal . . .

Anyway, rehearsals just started and James fueled everyone up with the following healthy (ahem, zucchini, right?) chocolatey muffins.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Chai-spiced Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners.

2.  In a large bowl beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar and oil. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini, chocolate cups and stir well.

3.  Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Mix until just moist.

4.  Pour batter into prepared muffin tins filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.

Raspberry Almond Bars

Raspberry Almond Bars

I’ve blogged more than 50 recipes, the vast majority of which come directly from James our Backstage Baker, and I cannot believe that I haven’t already blogged this recipe.  It is a terrible oversight on my part because this is one of my very favorites, and a staple in my personal pantheon of baked goods.   These bars are always popular and always disappear first from any dessert table! Do try them for your next church social or PTA bake sale.

James baked these early Sunday morning (before a 1pm matinee!  Who does a 1pm matinee?) to the delight of the Hamilton cast.

Poor Jersey had to wait for her walk until they were cooling . . .

Jersey

Raspberry Almond Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 package vanilla chips (10 or 12 oz)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Method:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9″ x 9″ pan.

1.   In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup vanilla chips.  DO NOT STIR.

2.  In  small bowl, beat eggs until foamy.  Gradually add sugar.  Stir in chip mixture and almond extract.

3.  Combine flour and salt.  Add to egg mixture just until combined.  Spread half of this batter in your pre-greased pan.  Bake at 325* for 15 – 20 minutes.

4.  In a small saucepan over low heat, melt jam then spread over warm crust.  Stir remaining chips into batter and drop by teaspoonfuls on top of jam layer.  Sprinkle with almonds and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

5.  Cool thoroughly on wire rack before you even attempt to cut into bars.  (I can never wait, and my bars always looks ragged.  Don’t be like me.  WAIT!)

Daveed

Daveed Diggs (Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson) digging in

Anthony Ramos

Anthony Ramos (Laurens/Philip Hamilton) achieving nirvana

Betsy Struxness

Betsy Struxness (Ensemble) posing with what’s left