Our oven broke right before Christmas, so my fantasy of baking mountains of cookies to give as gifts like a good little matron disappeared. Huzzybee then suggested that we try to make sugar plums this Christmas. I guess we both had some odd idea on our heads that a sugar plum was actually made out of…plums. I fantasized that it would taste something like grape turkish delight. In fact, sugar plums are not made of plums and they’re downright healthy (my sister-in-law noted that they are very similar to Lara bars, which I have never eaten, but I’ve always admired for their nice packaging).
We gleaned some information from the internet and came up with our own recipe. The measurements below are all somewhat approximate except the 1/4 cup of honey, which was the only consistent thing we found from other recipes. Be warned: these are novel little no-bake treats, but they can be expensive to make after you purchase all of the nuts and dried fruit.
1 cup whole, raw almonds
1 cup shelled pistachios
8 dried figs
1 cup dried apricots
16 oz dates
zest from 1 large orange
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
Powdered sugar for dusting
Toast the almonds in an oven if you so desire (this wasn’t an option for us, so we kept the nuts raw and they turned out fine). Pulse the almonds and pistachios in a food processor in small batches. Set aside in a large bowl. Pulse the dried fruits in the food processor in small batches. Warning: this is a sticky mess. The dates especially are hard to manage. If the food processor dislikes the dried fruit then you’ll have to chop the fruit by hand. Combine with the nuts, orange zest, cinnamon, and honey. Then make sure your hands are very clean, roll up your sleaves and dig in. The sugar plum mixture will congeal into a fruity, sticky goo, so prepare to spend some time and elbow grease kneading the “dough” until all of the honey, nuts and spices are completely incorporated.
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Form the sugar plum mixture into small, 1 inch balls and then roll in a plate of powered sugar before placing on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
This was just our way of making these. Any combination of fruit, nuts, and spices may be used. We found that the dates really helped hold everything together because they are so sticky. Although they are considered a holiday treat, these can easily be made year round and kept in a airtight container as a healthy, hearty snack.