With the very festive new adaption of The Nutcracker out at the cinema this Christmas, I got thinking about The Sugar Plum Fairy and wondering what sugar plums actually are. It was always one of my favourite stories as a child but it’s only been this year that I’ve actually questioned it. The answer, according to google, is little spiced sweets. And seeing as it’s highly unlikely I’ll be going to the cinema myself this Christmas with a little munchkin in tow, I thought I’d have a crack at making some!
This recipe includes a mix of dried fruit and seeds or nuts, although I believe they originally started out hard, jaw-breaker sweets, I think these softer, fruitier versions are much more my cup of tea.
And these little balls of festive delight can basically be tailored to your own taste!
400g of festive dried fruit – I used dates, cranberries and prunes (which I didn’t realise until this week are actually plums)
50g pumpkin seeds
3 balls of glacé ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Couple of tablespoons of brandy
Granulated sugar for decoration – if you have some that is infused with vanilla this would be a great time to use it!
Put your dried fruit into a bowl or tub with the brandy. Cover and leave to soak in for a day or two, giving it the odd stir or shake.
When the fruit is ready, finely dice or mince it all. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry heavy based frying pan over a medium heat for a few minutes. Leave them to cool then whizz them to a not-too-fine powder. Finely chop the ginger and add to the fruit along with the spices. Add also the grated zest and juice of the satsuma. Now add your ground pumpkin seeds and give it all a really good mix to make sure everything Is evenly distributed. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
When the time comes, using wet hands, roll out small dessertspoon sized balls, making sure they are lovely and round and well compact. Roll each ball well in the sugar to coat.
These would be delicious served with coffee after dinner, or given as little Christmas gifts on their own or as part of a mixed sweetie box.