Authentic Sugar plum recipe
For the homemade sugar plum candy recipe, I used a combination of dates, dried apricots, and glace cherries. The syrup from the cherries and the stickiness of the dates meant I only needed a tiny drizzle of honey to bind it all together – if you substitute dried fruit, you may need to use more.
They’ll add a festive, nostalgic touch to any Christmas table, and provide a great, bite-size alternative if people are too full for Christmas pudding. Best of all, they can be made in minutes and there’s actually no baking involved – you simply have to blitz all the ingredients in a food processor for a few seconds, roll into balls and they’re done!
They make great presents as well, wrapped in festive cellophane, solving all those last-minute Christmas panics in one fell swoop. They’re naturally gluten and dairy-free, so if you need a gourmet present for that difficult-diet friend, these are perfect. These treats are even better if you combine them with a cup of warm Gingerbread Latte – a perfect match for Christmas. Here is how to make sugar plums:
Sugar plum dessert recipe
- 100 g chopped dates
- 100 g chopped dried apricots
- 110 g chopped mixed nuts
- 60 g glace cherry halves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 tsp edible glitter
- Blitz together all the ingredients apart from the sugar and glitter for a few seconds until roughly mixed and sticking together.
- Dust a board and your hands with the icing sugar. Take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into a ball in your hands, then roll in the icing sugar until coated. Repeat until all the mixture has been used. Then roll in the glitter – I used silver, but you can use any colour you like!
- Refrigerate until ready to serve – they will keep in the fridge in Tupperware containers for up to 2 weeks.
What are sugar plums?
With just a few days until Christmas, I chose to make Sugar plums instead of mince pies, inspired by The Nutcracker. As a little girl, I loved ballet. I went to classes from the age of four. One Christmas, my godmother gave me a beautifully illustrated book of stories from the ballet and I pored over the pages of The Nutcracker, particularly obsessed with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
I gave up dancing ballet long ago, but I still adore watching it, and The Nutcracker story has continued to be a Christmas favorite, whether watching the film, seeing it live at the theatre or just looking at the pages of that beautiful book.
Still, I didn’t actually know what sugar plums were until I researched this recipe. Surprisingly enough, they are not actually sugared plums.
In the 17th century, a traditional sugar plum recipe referred to an unripe fruit that was coated in a layer of hard sugar. These were often used as treats or decorations during festive occasions. They seem to originate from Victorian times, dried, sweetened fruit being a particular luxury, and so popular as a Christmas treat.
In modern times, the exact composition of sugar plums can vary widely. They can be a mixture of dried fruit, nuts, honey, jam, and spices. Some sugar plum recipes might include ingredients like almonds, dried plums (prunes), apricots, candied citrus peels, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. These ingredients are often mixed together, formed into small rounds, and coated in sugar or sugar syrup to create a glossy finish.