Sugar plum is an oval or round shaped candy made with dried fruits and spices. It is most popular during the Christmas time. Even though the name implies otherwise, sugar plums are not plums, but confections made with an amalgamation of several dried fruits like dried plums, dried cherries, and dried figs. However, a few candy manufactures are engaged in the production of plum shaped and plum flavored candies, taking into account the literal meaning of “sugar plums”. Such candies are popularly marketed as “sugar plum candy”. Further, sugar plums may also refer to baked plums with sugar coating, though quite uncommon.
Sugar plum has been mentioned in a couple of poems, which depicts its cultural significance:
- Sugar plum has been mentioned in one of the lines of a poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, composed by Clement C. Moore. The line says “Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads”.
- Another poem, “The Sugar Plum Tree” also mentions the name of the candy, with the poem beginning with the line “"Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?".
Ingredients and Preparation
The dried fruits used to prepare the candies often include dried plums (also known as aka prunes), dried apricots, dried figs, dried cherries, and dried dates. Dried fruits are combined with almonds, honey, and aromatic spices like fennel seeds, anise seeds, cardamom, caraway seeds, nutmeg, and cinnamon. The entire mixture is then rolled in the form of balls, and coated with shredded coconut or sugar. Toasted almonds are commonly used in the preparation of sugar plums. The almonds can be toasted by way of arranging them in a baking sheet and baking them in oven for a few minutes until slightly brown.
Though not much popular, however, a few recipes suggest baking whole plums in oven after being coated with sugar. These sugar plums are served in the form of dessert.
A few popular sugar plum recipes have been discussed as under:
- Sugar coated plums- this sugar plum recipe suggests rolling whole plums into beaten egg whites, followed by rolling them in a mix of cinnamon and sugar, and then baking them in a buttered baking pan in oven. The plums are baked until crusty and properly cooked.
- Sugar plum balls- these are the confections made with dried fruits, nuts, and spices. All the dried fruits and nuts are processed in a food processor until finely chopped, and then combined with anise seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla extract, honey, and a pinch of salt. Fennel seeds, caraway seeds, and cardamom can also be added to the mixture. The mixture is rolled in the form of several small sized round or oval shaped balls, and each ball is then properly rolled in sugar. The dried fruits and nuts used to prepare the sugar plums consist of prunes, dates, almonds, and raisins. Other fruits like dried figs and dried apricots can also be used.
- Chocolate covered sugar plums- chocolate covered sugar plum recipe suggests dipping dried plums into melted chocolate, before topping them with toasted almonds, roasted peanuts, and flaked coconut, and refrigerating them until chocolate has hardened.
The sugar plum balls should be rolled in sugar at the time of serving only. If sugar plums are not being served instantly after being prepared, it is recommended to allow the balls to stay on cooling rack, uncovered, and roll them in sugar only before serving.
Sugar plums can be stored for around a week on cooling rack. Thereafter, it is recommended to store them in an airtight jar, in which they can be preserved for about a month.