Yep, sugar plums. Just like the story:
The children were nestled all snug in their heads, with thoughts of sugar plums dancing in their heads.
Seems like the stuff of fairy tales, huh? I feel the same way about turkish delight. I remember watching the 1988 version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when I was a kid, thinking what is this mysterious, fantasy-esque treat you speak of and how can I get some. Right. Now.
A Surprising Fact
Back in the day, “sugar plum” was a general term for nut, fruit, and seed-based candies (AKA comfits). So, as you’ll see in the recipe below, sugar plums aren’t necessary made of plums, although dried plums could be an ingredient if you choose.
The Atlantic claims traditional sugar plums don’t contain any fruit, and it refers to modern recipes as a “confectionary travesty” since they in no way resemble the real deal.
With all due respect to authenticity, I’m sticking with the modern version. These little gems are d-e-licious, and so many wonderful things wrapped up in a bite-sized package. They’re sticky and chewy (from the dried fruit), crunchy (from the almonds), and they have that holiday-specific spice (from the cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg). Plus, these things last for one month in your fridge. What’s not to like.
So you know what I say to The Atlantic? Fine. If this recipe is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.
2 C toasted almonds finely chopped (toast at 350º for 8 minutes)
1/4 C honey
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 C dried apricots finely chopped
1 C pitted dates finely chopped
1 C powdered sugar
1. Combine all ingredients—except for the powdered sugar—into a mixing bowl.
The dates were difficult to incorporate because they become one big ball of mush as I diced. If you experience the same, keep stirring the mixture until you fully incorporate the dates. It’ll happen eventually.
2. Roll batter into teaspoon-sized balls and set aside on a plate or cookie sheet.
3. Roll the sugar plums in the powdered sugar to coat.
I rolled mine in a small bowl and placed back on the cookie sheet.
4. Store sugar plums in an air tight container, separating layers with parchment paper. Keep in the fridge.
You can serve immediately, or you can wait a few days—the flavor gets better over time. If eating at a later time, re-roll in the powdered sugar before serving.
There you have it. Sugar plums. And hey, if you want to get really crazy with spices, check out Alton Brown’s recipe, which actually contains plums.
Got a sugar plum recipe different from the one here? Please share it—I’d love to see recipe variations. If you’ve tried the traditional version, tell me what they’re like!