This recipe for sugar plums makes the traditional, no-bake Christmas treat. Sugar plums are fun to make with kids after a trip to the Nutcracker Ballet or after reading The Night Before Christmas.
When I undertook planning a Sugar Plum Fairy themed birthday party, I knew that I had to make authentic sugar plums for the dessert table.
The only problem was that I had absolutely no clue what they were.
An evening of googling and a grocery trip later, I was ready for my Christmas culinary adventure. Now, I know that somewhere in my initial research and reading I read that the first documented mentions of sugar plums came from 16th century sources. Of course, I cannot find that source to cite it now. But I did find my scribbled notes and the recipe I used for making these delicious confections. When The Night Before Christmas was written, and when Tchaikovsky composed the Nutcracker Ballet, the term "sugar plum" could refer to pretty much any small candy treat--it was more of a slang term than anything resembling sugared fruit. But whatever the original version or changing meanings of the name, these sugar plums are delicious.
Sugar Plum Recipe
- 2 cups walnut halves
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 cup chopped dates (I used the pre-chopped kind from the dried fruit aisle, rather than pitting the whole dried dates in the cupboard. Those were saved for bacon-wrapped dates on tapas night!)
- 1 cup dried apricots
- zest of one orange
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- sugar for coating the sugar plums (do not mix with the other ingredients!)
Basically, chop everything into the itty bittiest pieces you can manage and stir together with the honey. This would have been painfully slow by hand, and I was very glad that I had the use of a modern food processor.
Once sufficiently chopped and combined, simply roll into balls. Roll each ball in the sugar coating. I used very coarse crystal sugar I bought at the cake decorating store to give the sugar plums extra sparkle and a unique look, but any sugar, even powdered sugar, would work.
These sugar plums had a complexity, a depth of flavor that I really appreciated. They also weren't overwhelmingly sweet, something that I always like. (Despite the fact that I love to make pastries, I prefer to eat salty things!) I may not have had any idea what a sugar plum was when getting in to this task, but you can be sure that these classic treats will be a feature on my holiday table for years to come.