The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet | Cinnamon-Sugar Plum Cupcake
"It was Christmas Eve and Marie and her brother, Fritz, could hardly wait for the party to start."
The first blog post of December is here! I absolutely love Christmas, so I hope you’re ready for a lot of nauseatingly pun-y Christmas posts, starting with “The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet.”
This children’s book, based on the famous ballet, is written by Deborah Hautzig and illustrated by Diane Goode. In this book, little Marie and her brother are opening presents on Christmas Eve, when their grandfather gifts Marie with a wooden nutcracker, “shaped like a little man, with a white cotton beard and a cheerful smile from ear to ear.” Marie’s brother promptly breaks it by cramming a large walnut in its mouth. She goes to bed upset and has a strange “dream,” where all the toys come to life—including the nutcracker. Marie goes on an adventure that involves angry mice, brave soldiers, snowflakes that taste like sugar and of course, a beautiful sugar plum fairy.
Because this is a kid’s book, we get to skip the parts of the ballet a child might find scary or boring. It’s a great read for a kid who might be too young to read themselves, but can still appreciate the thought of their toys coming to life on the most exciting night of the year. The illustrations are playful and colorful.
In honor of the sugar plum fairy, I baked cinnamon sugar plum cupcakes. These cake is a lemon flavored base, in order to balance out the sweetness of the plum, which aren't added until the very end, then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
They're super simple to make, too! Actually the hardest part was finding plums. I really wanted to use fresh ones, but they're out of season, so I was forced to go with canned plums which were sitting in a thick, sugary syrup. While I probably lost some crunch, I think the flavor still remained!
Cinnamon-Sugar Plum Cupcakes
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
5 large plums (about 1 1/4 pounds), pitted, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a different bowl, beat butter until fluffy.
3. Beat in 3/4 cup sugar.
4. Add eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice and lemon peel. Beat well after each addition.
5. Beat in flour mixture.
6. Pour batter into liners and press plum wedges halfway into batter.
7. Mix remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl; sprinkle over plums.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Let them cool completely before frosting. I used a store-bought whipped vanilla icing, dyed purple, and sprinkled white decorations on top.
“Hundreds of tiny candles twinkled like stars, and all sorts of sparkling ornaments and delicious tings to eat hung from the branches.”
“Fritz called the nutcracker an ugly fellow and crammed the largest walnut into the poor nutcracker’s mouth. Crack, crack—three teeth fell out.”
“But before she could say another word, the most amazing thing happened. The tree began to grow bigger and bigger, and the windows and toys and everything in the room grew with it. Now Marie seemed no bigger than a toy the size of the nutcracker!”
“Then out of the cupboard leaped the nutcracker, flourishing his sword and leading the toys to battle.”
“Marie and the little prince were greeted at his palace by a beautiful lady dressed in gossamer pink and white, who simmered like a dewdrop. ‘She is the Sugar Plum Fairy,’ said the little prince.”
“Marie never told anyone about the beautiful Land of Sweets. But she knew that someday her love for the nutcracker would take her back to that magic kingdom where wonderful things await all who have the eyes to see them.”