Navigation

Recipes

Authentic Sugar Plums

Authentic Sugar Plums inspired by Allan Suddaby, a local food hero; I, too, am a “Suddabite

Whilst reaching out to my Social Network for inspiration last month: “What is a Christmas Cookie you must have each year? I need some inspiration!” Tara Z suggested I try Sugar Plums and offered Allan Suddaby’s link. I had read it last year, and asked for his recipe. Back again this year, I find a link to Alton Brown’s recipe. Who would not be inspired by Sugar Plums at Christmas? Last year, I didn’t even know what they were. I hadn’t even thought about it, though was certainly aware of children with visions of them dancing in their head, and of Tchaikovsky’s Sugar Plum Fairy!

Thus, when I visited Alton Brown’s recipe, I was not overwhelmed. Boring. Dried fruit and the tiniest amount of spices. Time to do a little research. I find The Food Timeline helpful.

Authentic Sugar Plums are a “comfit” which was a confection traditionally composed of small seeds coated in dried fruit and sugar. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word sugarplum thusly: “A small round or oval sweetmeat, made of boiled sugared and variously flavoured and coloured; a comfit.” Apparently, the word plum traditionally referred to raisins or dried currants (Victorian era), not plums or prunes. Christmas pudding was called plum pudding, but contained no plums at all, as did the original Sugar Plums. Dried Currants and other more available and local small fruits were referred to as plums and used to make this confection and the traditional Christmas Plum Pudding. Sugar Plums were more or less the size and shape of plums and would have an aniseed or caraway seed in the centre: something of a licorice nature. In the 16th and 17th Century they often hung from thin wire and came in an assortment of colours and flavours.

You can find an old traditional recipe for Sugar Plums here.

This was one of the healthier sweets on the goodie plate this year and even Santa’s Elves loved them!

They are not a modern sweet. We are fortunate to travel quite a bit, and I have noted that in Eastern Europe, more so than any Western Countries, dried fruit is a highly esteemed confection served with tea or after a heavy meal, or worked into desserts in various combination for fancier fare. I recall shunning such offerings in the past, yet as I come to understand the importance of preserving and the value of a healthy lifestyle coupled with these significant traditions from our past, I can see I have truly missed out. My palate needs a little face lift, me thinks! I am not a huge eater of confections, yet at Christmas, definitely whip up far more than my fair share when right in my own pantry are many preserves that I plan to work more diligently onto the Traditional Plate.

Someone is sneaking away with a little goodie!

 

 

Authentic Sugar Plums
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweets
Cuisine: Canadian
Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces slivered almonds, toasted (I used hazelnuts as I had them ready to go)
  • 4 ounces prunes
  • 4 ounces dried apricots (I used my dried Evans cherries)
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon anise seeds, toasted plus ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted plus ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted plus ¼ teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cardamom plus ¼ teaspoon seeds
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup crystal sugar
Instructions
  1. Put the almonds, prunes, apricots, and figs into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 20 to 25 times or until the fruit and nuts are chopped into small pieces, but before the mixture becomes a ball
  2. Combine the powdered sugar, and one tablespoon each of the anise seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and the powdered cardamom with the salt; blend in a blender, in a Thermomix, in a food processor, nut grinder or coffee grinder to as fine a powder as possible: this will flavour the fruit with a lovely fragrant Eastern essence
  3. Add the powdered mixture to the fruit and nut mixture and combine well working to do so with clean hands
  4. Place the remaining seeds into a small bowl
  5. Place the crystal sugar into a small bowl
  6. Roll the Sugar Plums into a ball, inserting a seed or two into each ball; roll in the crystal sugar and set on a parchment covered cookie sheet to dry a bit
  7. Store in a tightly sealed container and enjoy the visions of Sugar Plums that will definitely come to you as you make these: the possibilities are endless!
Instructions for the Thermomix:
  1. Scale the powdered sugar into the TM bowl and set at 1 minute, speed 5-6 and add one tablespoon each of the anise seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and the powdered cardamom with the salt through the whole in the lid until all is blended into fine a powder: this will flavour the fruit with a lovely fragrant Eastern essence (remove from the bowl)
  2. Scale the almonds, prunes, apricots, and figs into the TM bowl without washing it; using Turbo, pulse 3 times for 1 second each, or until the fruit and nuts are chopped into small pieces, but before the mixture becomes a ball
  3. Pour mixture into a large bowl; sprinkle the powdered mixture over the fruit and nut mixture and combine well working to do so with clean hands
  4. Place the remaining seeds into a small bowl
  5. Place the crystal sugar into a small bowl
  6. Roll the Sugar Plums into a ball, inserting a seed or two into each ball; roll in the crystal sugar and set on a parchment covered cookie sheet to dry a bit
  7. Store in a tightly sealed container and enjoy the visions of Sugar Plums that will definitely come to you as you make these: the possibilities are endless!

green arrowPlease join ZIPLIST to create your own online recipe box: click SAVE on each of my recipes, under the photo, to add them.
If you like my recipe, rate is using the star system after you comment on the post: I like gold stars!
ZIPLIST as it is an excellent personal recipe resource many food blogs use.

About Valerie Lugonja

Educator, Writer, Gardener and Traveler who believes in buying and eating locally, and most importantly cooking at home!

Join The Conversation!

  1. This is the thing of classic Christmas stories!

  2. What a perfect treat! I am reading the story of the Nutcracker to my 3 boys and this was the perfect completion to the book. Thank you! Love the little elf.

  3. I have found some wonderful recipes here..thank you. I see that you are not only a writer but also a gardener & educator, so please, please educate me. OH, sorry this is drawn out but I do not know how to describe this fruit any other way.

    This fruit is from a bush growing like a vein over a trellis (mostly shade). It is the size of an avocado but has smooth skin. When it 1st comes off the bush it is lime green to purple depending on exposure to the sun I opened one and a sweet aroma came out alone with an orange ‘goo’ with many dark seeds. This ‘fruit’ was said to be a Sugar Plum by someone at the Argricultural Dept (a friend of someone @ church…I gave him 1 and asked that it be identified).

    Now, even equipped with a name, I cannot seem to locate how to eat this exact fruit, what part are safe, etc. ANY info you can educate me with is very very appreciated. Thank you so much. Renee Tina

    • Valerie Lugonja says:

      HI, Renee,
      So sorry. I cannot help you here, at all – but, hopefully someone else can when they read your question.
      :)
      Valerie

    • Hi Renee,

      It sounds perhaps like a Tamarillo to me, which is a fancy tomato. Purple skin, dark seeds, orange pulp. You can eat every bit of it. The person telling you that it is a sugar-plum might have been pulling your leg a little bit. Originally, a sugar-plum was the term for ANY kind of fruit! Tomatoes are a fruit, so if you think etymologically, it’s a sugar-plum.

      Hope this helps!
      Chazda

  4. I wanted to try sugar plums making this Christmas, and found your enjoyable article to be the definitive source for all things sugar plums. Perhaps you could clarify one point for me, in step 6 of your recipe, you state to insert a seed or two into each ball, then roll in sugar. In the same step you suggest mixing the seeds with the powered spices instead, which I assume is meant to be blended in the fruit mixture prior to forming into balls thereby negating the tedious task of inserting the seeds discretely in each ball. Is this correct?

    • Valerie Lugonja says:

      David
      the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of each seed in the the powdered mixture and sets aside 1/4 teaspoon of each seed for inserting into each sugar plum. I hope this helps.
      V

Please Speak Up!

*

Rate this recipe:  

Subscribe to A Canadian Foodie

Email *