The earliest mention of sugarplums as a confection is from 1668. While the English defined it as a type of comfit (a sugar-crusted seed or fruit), sugar plum can also mean “something very pleasing or agreeable; esp. when given as a sop or bribe,” a use of the term that dates back to 1608. The word plum in Victorian times usually suggested a raisin or dried currant, not the fruit we think of today.


  • 6 ounces slivered almonds (toasted)
  • 4 ounces dried plums
  • 4 ounces dried apricots
  • 4 ounces dried figs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup coarse sugar
  1. Put the almonds, plums, apricots and figs in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 20 to 25 times, until fruit and nuts are chopped into small pieces, but before the mixture becomes a ball.
  2. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, anise, caraway, cardamom and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the nut-and-fruit mixture and the honey and, using gloved hands, combine well.
  3. Scoop the mixture into 1/4-ounce portions and roll into balls. If serving immediately, roll in coarse sugar and serve. If not serving immediately, put the balls on a cooling rack and leave uncovered until ready to serve. Roll in sugar just prior to serving. Sugarplums may be stored on the cooling rack for up to 1 week. After a week, store in an airtight container for up to 1 month or freeze.


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  1. 3

    Look great! And yes they are gluten free so long as all your ingredients are. I will I use sunflower seeds in place of almonds to avoid the nuts due to allergies. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 7

    If I eliminate the almonds, is there a non-nut substitute you would recommend? Or would they be just as tasty without replacement? I ask because my nephew is allergic to nuts. Many thanks.

  3. 8

    I have an old family recipe for “goat balls” (don’t ask, i don’t know), which I now know, thanks to you, is basically a type of sugar plum! It makes sense, since it’s a Christmas tradition. If anyone wants to know, you blend maraschino cherries, walnuts, and pitted dates (with a little cherry juice for lubrication) in a food processor/meat grinder until it’s a chunky mush (not fully pureed, but malleable), then roll in a ball and roll in sugar. I’ll have to try leaving them overnight before the sugar roll this year, if I can keep myself from eating them right away (trust me, it ain’t easy!).

  4. 9

    Admiring the time and effort you put into your
    blog and in depth information you present. It’s nice to come across
    a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated
    rehashed information. Wonderful read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google

  5. 12
    Megan Smith

    I have a recipe for this that makes a gross (dozen dozen). I found that using a meat grinder for the fruit ended up working best, since I was dealing with 4lb of dried fruit.

  6. 14

    Going to make these tonight. The anise seeds I bought do not look like in the video, they are very large and star shaped. I don’t think that giant chunks will work out… help?

  7. 15

    I’ve been making these for several years with good results. Only addition is a splash of booze. Gran marnier and Kentucky bourbon work equally well.

  8. 16

    My better half and I watch good eats regularly. Wanted to just say thank you for information and recipes. I’ve actually learned some very interesting tidbits (how’s, why’s, and we didn’t know you could use that!) from your shows (and they say old dogs can’t learn new tricks)! Please keep up the great educational work…Awesome!

    I also wanted to ask where I could purchase the metal spice containers. They are not only convenient but sure make headway out of trying to find things?

  9. 17

    Teehee! Dried plums sounds sooo much better than prunes! Something I love! But, yes, we need a nut substitute. Will the recipe work if the nuts are omitted?

  10. 21
    Mary Beth

    Mr. Brown, I love your many shows and delicious recipes. I recently discovered a product that might “spice up” this recipe. A company out of Louisville KY, called Bourbon Barrel Foods, produces two course sugars one plain, one vanilla both are smoked with used Bourbon Barrel wood. They are intense, rich and delicious. You should try them out with this recipe. I imagine a new level of delicious! Thanks!

  11. 23

    With the sweetness from the figs, plums and honey could one forgo using the sugar in either or both steps without compromising (too much of) the overall flavor?

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