I love this recipe. It is so easy and yet, by varying the outer decoration, it can look like you made several different candies.
Type: Hand formed
Habitat: United States/Portugal
Description: These are small candies made from a melange of dried fruit and nuts. They are great to make with kids, in which case, use the orange juice. Otherwise, for an adult version, go for the “spirited” variation. There are several ways to finish them off and I suggest that you choose at least two of the options. You may roll them in granulated or confectioner’s sugar, but since these are sugar-free, I suggest trying the other toppings. This is a repeat recipe from A Baker’s Guide to Christmas Cookies, but I have streamlined the preparation. It really does work to grind all the ingredients together at once!
Field Notes: The original version may have originated in Portugal where fresh black figs and cooked green plums were used to make a similar candy.
Special Characteristics: Quick to make, Extra fancy, Sturdy enough to mail, Keep well, Fun to make with kids
1 cup toasted pecan halves
1/2 cup dates (moist and pitted)
1/2 cup dried Calimyrna figs (moist)
1/2 cup dried plums (prunes)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
1/4 cup rum, orange liqueur or orange juice
65 small fluted paper cups (optional)
Finely chopped almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios or walnuts
Finely grated bittersweet chocolate
Unsweetened grated coconut
1. The key to this recipe is to have the nuts and fruits all the same small size. You may chop them by hand, or, use the food processor fitted with metal blade. Just place all the fruits and nuts in bowl of processor and pulse on and off until the desired size is reached; the mixture should be consistently finely ground.
2. Place fruit and nuts mixture, coconut and liquid of choice in medium bowl. Mix together by hand until thoroughly combined; the consistency should hold together when compressed. If it is dry, add a little more liquid.
3. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls compressing the mixture so that it sticks together. Now you have a choice. Either leave Sugarplums as is, and I do like to leave some in their natural state, or roll them, one by one, in various toppings. I like to use one white topping, such as coconut, one nut topping (pistachios have a great green color) and either cocoa or chocolate. In this way a very simple recipe becomes Extra Fancy.
4. Place toppings of choice in small bowls and roll sugarplums in them to coat completely; place in small fluted paper cups, if desired.
Yield: 65 sugarplums
Lifespan: 1 month refrigerated in airtight container
Candy Tidbits: To measure such small amounts of ingredients such as prunes, simply press them firmly into a 1/2-cup measuring cup.