Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd…
Happy Halloween! For our first Halloween edition of Center Stage Sweets, I had to pay homage to the original musical thriller, “Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler.
“Sweeney” tells the tale of barber, Benjamin Barker, who was sent away to Australia 15 years prior on trumped up charges because Judge Turpin was lusting after Barker’s wife, Lucy. After escaping and changing his name to Sweeney Todd, he returns to London to find his wife and daughter, Johanna, and seek his revenge on the Judge. He returns home and finds his neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, who tells him of the tragic fate that befell his wife at the hands of the Judge, and that he now has taken in Johanna like his own daughter. Eventually, his desire for revenge leads him and Mrs. Lovett to start killing his patrons and taking the meat from their corpses and selling them in her meat pies. The show is exciting, thrilling, and heartbreaking, and has one of the most beautiful scores. It will always be one of my absolute favorites.
My Time on Fleet Street
Didi I mention I love this show? I love it so much that I actually wrote papers for my graduate school applications on the history of the Sweeney story leading up to the musical. I could go off on a long dissertation about it, but I’ll save you all that 20 page rambling. You’re welcome. But hey, they worked, because I got into Catholic University of America and received my MA in Theatre History & Criticism there.
I have always wanted to be in “Sweeney.” The score is beautiful and challenging. The story is tragic and compelling. And the characters are fascinating. So when Schenectady Light Opera announced the show as part of their season a few years back, it was on my must audition list. At the time, I was expecting to only really be seen for Johanna – your typical soprano ingenue. And though I would have been happy to play the role, I wanted to sink my teeth into something meatier (pun totally intended). I’ve always loved the role of the Beggar Woman. She’s a challenge physically and mentally as an actor, and her music is so beautiful and haunting. The character is older than I am by a bit, but I figured she’s so dirty and supposed to be unrecognizable that maybe I just might be able to pull it off. And I must have been right about that because I got the part!
Since Mrs. Lovett bakes all of Sweeney’s victims into pies, I knew I had to do a pie for this show. But since meat pies don’t really fall under “sweets,” and I’m not the biggest fan of cooked fruit, I thought it might be fun to do a play on “death by chocolate” for this bloody show. So here we are – chocolate overload in pie form. This may be my favorite creation so far. No joke, in reviewing the tutorial video and writing this post, my mouth keeps watering at the thought of it. I hope you enjoy it.
1. Run Oreos through food processor, leaving in the cream (be sure to use original, NOT double stuffed).
2. Melt butter. Mix melted butter and crushed cookies until mixture is like wet sand. If you need to add more butter to achieve that texture, do so 1 Tbs at a time (it should not take more than 8 Tbs total).
3. Spray pie plate with regular cooking spray (vegetable or canola oil – not olive oil). Dump crust mixture into the pie plate and spread out and up the sides of the pie plate to create an even firm crust. Freeze for 30 minutes.
4. Melt dark chocolate over a double boiler. While the chocolate melts, work on the rest of the filling.
5. Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in whipping cream and mix on low until combined.
6. Add in confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue to mix on medium.
7. Add in sugar and mix on high until soft peaks form.
8. Once chocolate is melted, take about 1 Tbs of cream mixture and stir into the melted chocolate (same method you use to temper eggs). Once chocolate mixture thickens and is completely combined with the cream addition, add the chocolate into the full cream mixture. Add in coffee and mix until full combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
9. Break or chop up Bark Thins. Pour the majority of the Bark Thins into to mixture, reserving a 1 – 2 Tbs for the topping. Fold or mix the Bark Thins into the chocolate and cream mixture. Pour filling into the chilled pie crust, and distribute evenly throughout dish.
10. Top the pie with remaining Bark Thins and melted chocolate chips (melt in the microwave at 10-20 second intervals) drizzling the chocolate over the top of the pie. Freeze for 2 hours before serving.
11. Take out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving to make cutting the pie easier. If you’re preparing the pie for more than 2 hours in advance of serving, after 2 hours in the freezer, cover the pie with cling wrap.
Yields 10 – 12 servings. Approximately 632 calories per slice.