|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 FoodTimeline.org, 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
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
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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