Recipes Inspired by Musicals: The Phantom of the Opera

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Phantom of the Opera was the must-see show in the late 1980s.  It told the story of a phantom who haunted the opera house in Paris, and Christine Daae, the understudy with whom he fell in love. Phantom has since gone out of style but, at the time, no one could resist its flamboyant charms. In terms of sheer drama and visual spectacle, it’s hard to think of anything that equaled it, either before or since.

A quick breakdown of that drama: The crew at the opera house frighten the others with tales of the mysterious Phantom who terrifies singers and wreaks havoc backstage. The Phantom kidnaps Christine, and takes her on a tour of the subterranean lake below the opera house. The main soloist, Carlotta, receives a note that reads:

“Your days at the Opera Populaire are numbered
Christine Daae will be singing on your behalf tonight
Be prepared for a great misfortune
Should you attempt to take her place.”

If that isn’t enough, Carlotta loses her voice, the stagehand who backs her is killed and his body shoved from the rafters, and a chandelier crashes to the ground.  All of this happens in the first act.

So, pretty much a normal day at the office.

The only kind of recipe that could be inspired by The Phantom of the Opera is one so ridiculously over the top, it’s beyond irony. So frivolous and sugary and extravagant, all you can do is stand back and appreciate it for what it is.

I found that recipe in the Meringue Girls cookbook. These squares are the culinary equivalent to Christine Daae’s highest trill, or to a weeping phantom being redeemed by a woman’s kindness.

It won’t be obvious, but I’ve actually given you the “sensible” version of the recipe. I cut back on the sugar by nearly one half, and cut the squares much smaller than the recipe suggested. (I got thirty squares, where the recipe suggested twelve. Not even in my most desperate sugar cravings could I eat one-twelfth of this pan of squares in one helping.)

The only “great misfortune” that will occur is if you never try these dramatic, luscious, unforgettable meringue squares.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Meringue Squares

For the cookie base:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/3 cups chocolate chips

For the meringue:

1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
4 egg whites

1. To make the cookie base:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with parchment paper, with some overhang on the long sides. 

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat the melted butter, brown sugar and sugar with a mixer until well blended, about 1 – 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy, another 2 minutes. Mix in the dry ingredients with a spoon until just blended and a crumbly dough forms.

Gently press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking sheet, making sure the surface is even. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cookie dough and press them down lightly. Bake for 15 minutes, until the dough is just cooked but still soft. Using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the top. Let cool for at least 15 minutes.

2. To make the meringue:

Pour egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on high speed just until the whites form stiff peaks. Add one tablespoonful of sugar after another to the bowl while still beating. Continue to whisk on high for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and the sugar fully incorporated.

3. To assemble:

Using a rubber spatula, dollop the meringue on the cookie base and spread it to the edges. Cut a sheet of parchment paper about the same size as the pan and lightly press it onto the meringue. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, then remove the parchment and bake for 5 minutes more, until the meringue peaks are lightly golden.

Let cool completely, then cut into 30 squares.


Angie's Recipes said...

I LOVE LOVE that thick layer of dark brown sugar meringue topping! Gotta to save this for the high sugar Friday :-))

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

Love that story Beth, and your chocolate chip squares look delicious, my kind of treat.

Julie said...

One of my favorites! These chocolate chip squares look amazing, perfect for Valentines Day treats.

Unknown said...

I don't really think Phantom has gone out of style. I hear people talking about it all the time. I don't think these luscious bars would ever go out of style either.

The Glamorous Gourmet said...

**Sigh** I still love the Phantom of the Opera - what a magical show and these bars look magical as well!

Valerie Gamine said...

Best musical. Ever! (I always wanted/still want someone to serenade me with "All I Ask of You.") Bookmarking this unique bar recipe!

Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said...

My favourite romantic musical ever, I love the beautiful meringue squares! They are perfect to enjoy while watching it :D

Choc Chip Uru

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

One of my daughter's favorite shows! And these could become one of my favorite desserts---fabulous!!!

Dumcho's NOTEBOOK said...

Yummy..yummy. that chocolate.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Another fantastic recipe I want to try.

Pam said...

I never saw the Phantom of the Opera but after hearing about it, I wish I had! These bars look over the top delicious & decadent.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love Phantom (saw the version in TO years back)!!
These sounds completely decadent and pretty much perfect! :)

Delectably Green said...

Isn't Phantom just amazing!!! and so is this dessert - so perfect, delicious and dramatic!

grace said...

oooh, these look awesome! i've somehow and for no identifiable reason avoided the phantom of the opera all my life--i didn't even know the premise, really! while i'm not necessarily inspired to go see it, i AM inspired to whip the heck out of some egg whites. :)

Monica said...

Great inspiration and delicious-looking squares! That is a very nice treat.

Gloria Baker said...

This look absolutely delicious Beth!!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

I love love love meringue so these are literally my idea of a perfect treat! I will absolutely be trying these - YUM!

nancy at good food matters said...

WOW Beth, those meringue treats are over the top of the top! (and you cut back on the sugar--mercy.)
I remember well when Phantom was the rage...

scrambledhenfruit said...

Love both the Phantom and these bars! That layer of meringue is calling me. :)

Agness said...

I absolutely love it! So yummy and easy to make!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Great musical -- haven't thought of it in years! And you're right, it deserves an over-the-top recipe to celebrate it. You've chosen a good one! Really nice -- thanks.

Juliana said...

So interesting these cookies...with a layer of brown sugar meringue...looks delicious Beth!
And yes, I saw the Phantom of the Opera three times...and loved every time I seen it.
Hope you are having a great week :)

Unknown said...

Hi Beth!
I love meringue in any and all forms, these look amazing ;-)
Hope you are doing well!

Katerina said...

I had the chance to see the Phantom of the Opera twice in Broadway, first time while I was studying in US and second time when I went to NY to attend my brother's graduation. I loved the first time but the second one didn't live up to my expectations. The casting was not as good as the first time. I love the play, I have the cd and I mug I bought back then. The bars look absolutely perfect Beth!

lisa is cooking said...

I saw The Phantom of the Opera in Chicago in the late 80s. At the historic theater, the balcony railing was lower than current-day codes would require. I remember slipping on the last step and almost flinging myself over that short railing. A dramatic arrival for a dramatic musical! These brownies look delightful. I love a brown sugar meringue, and that book is full of fun ideas!

Pam said...

The Phantom thing kind of always spooked me out, but your cookie squares look and sound delicious. Funny, I know the historic theater Lisa is talking about.

Beth said...

Phew, Pam and Lisa! Sounds like the perfect place to stage Phantom!

Kathy said...

I loved Phantom! And I absolutely love those Meringue Brownies…they sound like a fabulous dessert, Beth!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I make a meringue topped bar but the meringue isn't as high. They have always been a favorite.

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