Now usually only found in poems like A Visit from Saint Nicholas or the ballet The Nutcracker, sugar plums were once a special treat for Victorians.
Visions of Sugar Plums
Sugar plums are charming little treats that are a delight to young and old alike. They can be made with any dried fruit you happen to have on hand, but raisins, dates, and apricots are a good start. Because of their inherent sweetness, I would suggest that you use both golden and regular raisins but the recipe for sugar plums is pretty loose on the interpretation of what fruit is used. Whatever fruit you decide to use for your sugar plums, avoid the candied fruits that are sold for fruitcake.
Sugar plums will enchant you. After you taste your own sugar plums, you will understand why children in the Victorian era had visions of them dancing in their heads. Sugar plums were a tradition around Christmas time and were often placed on loved ones' pillows to ensure good dreams on Christmas night. I don't know if this works or not, but I now make sugar plums every Christmas just for the fun of it. If you don't have cellophane to wrap them, plastic wrap will work just as well. If you don't happen to have a food processor, all you have to do is mince the dried fruits and mix the spices and brandy in by hand.
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 ounces of dried fruit of your choosing. Raisins should be in this mixture.
- ½ cup of slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- ½ teaspoon of ground mace (or ground nutmeg if you cannot find mace)
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Line a half sheet pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the dried fruit, almonds, brandy, cinnamon, and mace in a food processor.
- Pulse until well blended.
- Scoop out the mixture with a teaspoon and roll into small balls.
- Place the sugar in a small plate.
- Roll the fruit balls in the sugar to coat.
- Place on the cookie sheet and let rest in the refrigerator until chilled, about two hours.
- Wrap in colored cellophane.
- Place on the pillow of your loved one on Christmas Eve.