Some people think of ballerinas and twirling when you mention Sugar Plums. The Tchaikovsky Nutcracker favorite is one of the most recognized pieces of classical music even for those who have never attended a Nutcracker performance. Some of us assume the idea of Sugar Plums is a Santa idea that is dancing in our heads as we dust off the copy of “Twas a Night Before Christmas”. But what is a Sugar Plum? And no, it is not a child in a tutu nor is it really a fairy.
In the very early 1600s, Delights for Ladies, gave cooking instructions to boil plums in sugar to preserve them. By the 1700s the term Sugar Plum was used to refer to a variety of fruits, roots and nuts boiled in sugars and candied.
As we modernize the directions for making them, try to imagine families in the 1700s chopping everything by hand, mixing the ingredients with no food processor and even affording the fruits and sugar that is required for these very special treats.
We are grateful to our friend Nikki, the extraordinary “got-to” person for the Food Network! Sugar Plums are just one of her Christmas suggestions! She literally wrote the book on Gingerbread Houses! Find all her recipes for Christmas and beyond at tikkido.com
Yield: Makes 75
2 cups whole almonds
½ cup dried apricots
½ cup dried figs
½ cup pitted prunes
¼ cup Honey
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
1 cup sugar
Place nuts, apricots, figs, prunes, dates in food processor and blend. This will be a really sticky blend!
Combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Add mix of fruits and nuts and mix well.
Pinch off rounded teaspoon-size pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. You will need to rinse your hands often as mixture is very sticky.
IF you plan to serve them immediately roll balls in sugar so that they are glittery. If making ahead, refrigerate in single layers between sheets of wax paper in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Roll in sugar prior to serving.
Their flavor improves after storing for several days.