Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sugar Plums Dancing in my Head by Paty Jager


I wrote a post on another blog to reveal what I learned about oranges and Christmas. A person left a comment about sugar plums which of course started my brain questioning, and I learned sugar plums were not at all what I had envisioned.

I believed sugar plums as in the poem by  Clement C. Moore, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” or also known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”  in the line “Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads,” was an actual plum covered in sugar. I mean what else could it be?

It so happens that in the 1600’s a plum meant dried fruit. And a sugar plum can be made of any combination of dried plums(prunes), dried figs, dried apricots, dried dates, and dried cherries. The chopped dried fruit is mixed with chopped nuts, honey and aromatic spices, like anise, caraway, fennel, and cardamom. The mixture is then rolled into balls and coated in sugar.
Photo: Savory Moments

Sugar Plums
from Saveur Magazine
2 cups whole almonds
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for ten minutes. Set aside to cool and then finely chop. Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Mix almonds, apricots, dates and spice mix in a large bowl. Mix well. Pinch off rounded teaspoon-sized pieces and roll into balls. Dust the sugar plums with powdered sugar and refrigerate in single layers between sheets of wax paper in airtight containers for up to one month.


I don't have any sugar plums in my Christmas Novella, Christmas Redemption, but it is a heartwarming tale of redemption and love at Christmas time.

Blurb: 
Van Donovan returns to Pleasant Valley, Oregon where twelve years earlier as a boy of fifteen he left in handcuffs after standing guard for a bank robbery. He's learned a trade and excelled at it and is ready to prove to his father and the town he can amount to something.

Upon his return he learns the fate of the daughter of an innocent man who died in the robbery crossfire. To make amends he takes her out of the saloon and gives her a job, not realizing she'd been squatting in the very building he'd purchased for his business.

Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives?
           
BUY LINKS:  Amazon        Nook           Smashwords





25 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Wow! I have no clue where all the weird formatting came from. I put this in a word doc then copied and pasted it to here and added the photo just like I usually do.

Meg said...

No problem reading it, though! I was like you -- thinking sugared plums. LOL!! Sounds like too much work, too, but interesting!! Your book sounds great!

Judith Ashley said...

Thank you, Paty. While we had many Christmas traditions, Sugar Plums (whether plums rolled in sugar or your recipe above) weren't part of it. This is so much fun learning more about the traditions I've lived with much of my life - or learning something new as in this post.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Hi Paty - loved reading this post since I was the one who started you thinking about sugar plums. When we made them, it was a bit easier and they taste so good. I made divinity, put it inside a date, then put that inside a plum, and then wrapped a dried apricot around the plum before rolling it in sugar. The only trouble is, your fingers get so sticky. The combination really tasted good together.

VICKI BATMAN, said...

Hi, Paty! I'd like to try one. Congratulations on the story.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Sounds good, Paty. One of our traditions is a pecan half stuffed inside a date, then the date is rolled in powdered sugar. Originally, when I was young and we lived in California, this was a walnut. After we moved back to Texas, pecans were more plentiful and less expensive, so my mom substituted them. Another tradition is making sugar cookies and fudge. My mom made the best fudge, but I use her recipe. She always made divinity too, but mine never turns out as well as hers did.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks Meg. I agree, sugar plums sound like a lot of work.

Paty Jager said...

Judith, If I didn't get curious I'd never know a thing! Thanks for stopping in.

Paty Jager said...

Paisley, That is so true! You pushed my curiosity into discovering the truth behind the sugar plum. Wow! Your recipe sounds better than the one I found. Yum! I could eat dried fruit all day.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks, Vicki! Me too. I might have to make some though Paisley sounds better to me.

Paty Jager said...

My mom grew up in California and every year at Christmas my grandfather sent us a box of oranges,lemons, figs, walnuts, and dried apricots. Best time of year at our house between my mom and grandma's baking and the box from California. I've never been able to make good divinity.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Funny how minds work. I never thought of sugar plums as actually being plums. I guess because I had them as a child. Merry Christmas, Patty!

Lyn Horner said...

Those sugar plums look good and sound tasty. Thanks for sharing the recipe and history of these confections, Paty.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Maggie. I didn't have a clue a plum was anything other the sweet/tart purple and yellow skinned plums we picked out of the trees in our orchard as a kid. Merry Christmas to you!

Hi Lyn, You're welcome!

mjdresselbooks said...

The sugar plums surprised me, too. I don't think I've ever had one, but would love to try them. Your story sounds like a great read. Congratulations! And, I like this blog. Nothing like a cowboy kiss, even if only in my dreams.

Ciara Gold said...

Interesting post. Reminds me of my grandmother's date/nut balls. She had this recipe where it was basically cooked dates, nuts and sugar that were rolled in coconut flakes. Very tasty. Might have to hunt for that recipe now.

Ellen O'Connell said...

Count me as another surprised at what a sugar plum really is. Since I'm one of the oddballs who likes nuts but doesn't like them mixed with anything, they wouldn't work for me, but it's still interesting. So was your post on the other blog about oranges in stockings. My mother was one of those who looked forward to the orange in her Christmas stocking as a child. Oranges may have been available country-wide in her childhood, but from the way she talked about it, they weren't a common purchase and were a considerable treat. I don't think her family would have considered themselves poor, but they were working class. Of course the Great Depression undoubtedly figured into things also.

Paty Jager said...

MJ, Welcome to Cowboy Kisses! I'm glad you found my post interesting. We'd love to have you stop by often.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Ciara, I'm cringing at the coconut. I'm not a fan. Thanks for popping in.

Paty Jager said...

Ellen, I'm with you. I prefer my nuts plain or coated in chocolate. I don't like them mixed in salads, baked goods, or anything else. While oranges could be transported they weren't common and did cost. So you could say an orange in a child's stocking would have been like gold because they probably cost more than the other items in the stocking.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I had no idea that a sugar plum would be anything other than a sugared plum! Not sure I'd care much for them because candied fruits don't appeal to me. Are these something you could buy in the store, or did people have to make them at home?

Paty Jager said...

Jacquie, from what I gathered doing the research they were made at home not bought at a store.

Ginger Simpson said...

Who knew. Thanks for enlightening me. I'm sure I won't be dreaming of sugar plums. Maybe fudge. :)

Paty Jager said...

Hi Ginger! Yes, I won't be dreaming of sugar plums...peppermint bark dark chocolate Ghirardelli is what I'll dream of. Yes, I am the original Peppermint Paty! LOL

Alison E. Bruce said...

I keep forgetting about sugar plums. Despite having been told several times, I still persist in imagining candied plums. They're more like rum balls.

I also forget about copying directly from Word. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. When I remember, I copy the text to Notebook first to get rid of the Word formatting which isn't always compatible with HTML.