When I was a little girl I always had my head stuck in a book – very often it would be a huge book of Fairytales. With my fervent imagination I would love to read about beautiful princesses, elves and witches, princes and goblins and transport myself to faraway lands, dancing until dawn in little red shoes. My grandfather, who incidentally was a printer, a very good carpenter and a wonderful storyteller, introduced me to the Nutcracker Suite and this was when I first encountered the concept of the sugar plum.
Growing up in an extended household of cooks (both my mother and my grandmother were exceptional culinary genii, with the most basic of ingredients) I have been fascinated by the possibilities of food from a young age, and the thought of the sugar plum, well…made my mouth water!
I came across this Victorian-based recipe on the nourishedkitchen.com website which has rekindled my childhood sweet-meat fantasies. It uses ingredients that would have been considered very exotic at the time, although these days they are easy to find and a few of us probably have these spices and dried fruits knocking around our store cupboard.
These would be a lovely addition to any table on Christmas Eve.
Recipe for Sugarplums
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 cup chopped pitted dates
- 1/2 chopped unsulphured apricots
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted prunes
- to finish: powdered unrefined cane sugar or unsweetened dessicated coconut, optional
- Toss walnuts into a mixing bowl with one-half teaspoon unrefined sea salt and add warm water to cover by two inches
- Allow the nuts to soak, covered, in salty water overnight between eight and twelve hours
- Drain in a colander and rinse well, patting dry with a kitchen towel
- Pop the soaked nuts into a food processor with the zest of one orange, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coriander as well as chopped pitted dates, unsulphured apricots and pitted prunes
- Pulse the mix three to four times to combine, then process until a paste forms – maybe four or five minutes
- Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl and form the sugar plums by rolling about two tablespoons of the paste in the palms of your hands until a round ball forms
- Dredge the sugar plum in powdered unrefined cane sugar or unsweetened dessicated coconut