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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.