RECIPE: Real Visions Of Sugarplums | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures RECIPE: Real Visions Of Sugarplums | The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures
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RECIPE: Real Visions Of Sugarplums

Make sugarplums this Christmas!

What exactly are sugarplums, visions of which danced in the heads of the children in Clement Moore’s famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas?”

The original sugarplums were sugar-coated coriander (the seeds of cilantro). Tiny seeds coated with many layers of sugar were a popular confection known as a comfit (not confit); aniseed and caraway were other popular comfits. According to, the earliest known mention of sugarplums is in 1668.

You’ll see sugarplums referred to as “a small round or oval sweetmeat, made of boiled sugar and variously flavored and colored.” That could sound like any hard candy, but it is, in fact, a comfit, and not a plum dipped into sugar.

Later, small pieces of fruit were used. In Victorian times, the word “plum” referred to raisins or dried currants, not plums as we know them.

Modern recipes are more complex, with dried fruits and nuts. Here’s a recipe courtesy of Wholesome Sweeteners, manufacturers of organic and Fair Trade sugar and agave syrup:




Vision of a modern sugarplum. Photo courtesy of

  • 2 cups whole raw unsalted almonds, walnuts or pecans
  • 1/3 to 1/4 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Amber Honey or Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave (measure according to your sweetness preference)*
  • 2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup dried plums, finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Powdered Sugar, Turbinado or cocoa powder

*Agave is our favorite sweetener, just as tasty as sugar and less than half the glycemmic index.


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Arrange nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for ten minutes. Set aside to cool and then finely chop.
3. Chop the dried fruit into bits the same size as the nuts.
4. Combine honey or agave, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chopped nuts and fruit. Mix well (very clean hands work best).
5. Use a melon baller to scoop the mixture into balls.
6. Dust the sugar plums with powdered sugar or cocoa and refrigerate in single layers between sheets of wax paper in airtight containers for up to one month.

Please feel free to substitute your favorite dried fruits for the plums and dates—apricots, dried cherries, figs, and raisins work well. Pecans or walnuts can be substituted for the almonds. Just use an equal ratio of fruits to nuts.

While you prepare your sugarplums, play “The Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite.” You can download it for 99 cents.

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