It’s doubtful in this day and age that many children go to bed Christmas Eve with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. These old fashioned sweets just haven’t adapted to the age of high-fructose corn syrup. These days, sugar plums are for adults.
In fact, sugar plums are so old fashioned, they’re a novelty. One bite takes you back, not to your own childhood, but to your grandmother’s. These are incredibly easy to make using a food processor, but would have been quite a chore in the old days. Dried figs, prunes and apricots mixed with spices, almonds, a little sugar and some honey give sugar plums instant Victorian credibilty. This must be what Charles Dickens tasted like, not that you’d want to taste Charles Dickens.
Earthy, chewy, fruity, these sweets (and they are very sweet) are the candy cousins to that other ancient Christmas treat, fruitcake. Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
3/4 cup almond slivers or pieces, toasted
About 12 dry prunes
The same amount of dried apricots and figs
1/4 cup or so of very fine sugar (castor)
1/4 cup or so liquid honey
1/4 teaspoon or so each of anise, fennel, carroway and cardamom, ground
a pinch of salt
In a food processor, chop the almonds to finely. Add fruit and chop (be careful not to over do it, you don’t want to make paste).
Transfer to a bowl and with a wooden spoon mix in, sugar, salt, spices and honey.
Using a tablespoon, make small, imperfect balls and set aside on parchment paper on a baking tray. Let these rest for a few hours.
Roll into balls in the palm of your hand and roll in coarse sugar.