Sunday, November 29, 2015

Visions of Sugar Plums: Nutcracker Sweets


 Without a doubt candies and confections play a sweet and starring role in the celebration of the Christmas season. Ironically one of the most oft mentioned holiday treats is the rather mysterious, but delightfully named sugar plum. 
     Generations of children have read of little ones drifting off to sleep dreaming of the confections in the classic Night before Christmas poem or perhaps seen the magical Sugar Plum Fairy dance across the stage in the famous Nutcracker ballet, but, many, myself included, hadn't a clue as to what exactly a sugar plum was.
images from the Graphics Fairy
      While some quick research revealed some conflicting ideas, the overall consensus was that these treats, which did not contain plums, were based on the sugar coated seeds and exotic spices called confits popular in Europe in the 1600's. Painstakingly made with layers of sugar syrup, they were a luxury for the wealthy and royals until later advances in production made them more readily and inexpensively available. 
      Fast forward to today and you can find a myriad of recipes for this centuries old treat, most including a combination of dried fruits such as dates and apricots, nuts, honey, sugar and assorted spices.
     I decided to whip up an easier, if not completely historically accurate version, and spruce them up with some colorful chocolate and a little sparkle.
I used
1 1/4 cup assorted mixed dried fruits
I bought  a package of mixed fruits including
dried apricots, golden raisins, peaches apples and cranberries
 but any of your  favorites will do
1 1/4 cup almonds
4 tbs honey
spices: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash nutmeg
chocolate melts, pink, white or lavender
assorted sprinkles

if desired "toast" almonds in a dry skillet for a minute or two to bring out flavor, stirring constantly
Give fruit and nuts a quick whirl in a food processor until finely minced. 
In bowl stir in honey and spices. 
Roll into balls and set on a tray lined with wax paper, chill until firm- you may need to moisten hands often to prevent sticking
Although healthier than many holiday treats, they sadly don't rank among the prettiest. 
To the rescue, a light coat of chocolate melts and some sprinkle magic. Simply melt chocolate according to instructions and spoon over sugar plums. Garnish with sprinkles or dust with powdered sugar and let cool completely

 I added some wintery Nutcracker themed decor and DIY party favors.
A mini nutcracker and royal mouse hold court under a glass dome.

Sugar Plum Fairy Wands 
I used:
A set of wands craft kit 
snowflake ornaments 
(both from dollar store)
assorted scrapbook paper
ribbon, trim, odds and ends
printable
I simply spray painted some fun foam wands
Images from the Graphics Fairy (Love her!)
cut and glued some images

 and had fun decorating


With the table set it's time to relax with a cup of tea. Sugar plums make an elegant snack after the watching the ballet
(even if it's just at home on TV)

Wishing all our readers 
a Magical Holiday Season

24 comments:

  1. Christina:
    I just pulled my folder for Sugar Plums too. Yours are outstanding. The wands are darling. You have so many wonderful ideas here! I love the special details and glitter! So glad you shared this posting at my blog party. The Sugar Plums look delicious. I too love special significant recipes that have a story behind them!

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    2. oops I hit delete!
      Thanks so much Bernideen- I had no idea there were so many recipes for Sugar plums! I opted for a very easy one - I loved going to the Nutcracker as a child so this was a fun theme for me
      Thanks as always for hosting your lovely parties

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  2. Very beautiful. I like the history of the Sugar Plum treats. I am posting my Nutcracker collection next week.
    I am your newest member.

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    1. Thanks so much! I'm delighted you'll be following!
      I love the Nutcracker so I can't wait for your post!

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  3. Your sugar plums look wonderful all frosted up like that, Christina! I knew they were a different sort of confection but isn't it interesting they go so far back? I make sugar plums too but they are a glorified saucepan cookie rolled into little balls. They are delicious too. Love all the crafting you have done and the fairy wands are adorable! I have always loved The Nutcracker! Thanks so much for sharing with us at my party and enjoy your day.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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    1. Thanks so much Sandi!
      Wow - your version sounds pretty good- will have to look that up :)
      Thanks also for hosting your wonderful parties - always so many ideas!
      Cheers

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  4. I also didn't know what a sugar plum was. Thanks for the fun and informative post!

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    1. Thanks so much Margie!
      They were a mystery to me too :)

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  5. What a lovely post! Christina you have a beautiful blog. I never knew what a sugar plum was...thank you for informing me on that : ) Yours look pretty tasty to me!

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    1. Thanks so much Terri!
      I wasn't sure either lol- I guess there are lots of interpretations of sugar plums out there- I just went with a simple one. So glad you stopped by and thanks again for your kind words

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  6. Fairytale inspiration. Love it all!
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

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    1. Thanks Linda!
      How sweet- This was such a fun theme to work with :)

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  7. Christina, I think they look delicious and really are quite pretty. I have got to try them. My mom use to make some balls with dates, mini marshmallows, etc. rolled into coconut or chopped nuts and I loved them. Still have the recipe, but don't make them every year. Your wands are darling as well. You are so creative!
    hugs,
    Jann

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    1. Thanks so much Jann,
      Your mother's recipe sounds wonderful! Marshmallow and coconut! yum!
      I think there are hundreds of varieties - I'd love to try some other versions :)
      Thanks for visiting and your kind words and for hosting your delightful parties
      Cheers

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  8. Your posting was featured today from my blog party earlier this week - it was wonderful and I prainted it out. When I move I hope to make these with my Granddaughter next Christmas!

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    1. Thanks so much Bernideen!
      I'm delighted to be featured- These are really so easy to make (and little healthier than some treats lol) Good luck with your move!
      Cheers

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  9. Should have said "printed it out"!

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    1. LOL - I'm the queen of typos- I just read it as printed

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  10. They look delicious!
    And how I look forwards to see the Nutcracker Ballet with my daughter the 22.th :)

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    1. Thanks so much!
      How exciting to be going to the ballet! I just love the Nutcracker but haven't seen it since for years.
      Thanks for visiting :)

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  11. Came across your blog from graphicsfairy & LOVE your creativity! I'm wondering if I could make some wands too, but don't know much about photo editing. How did you change the color of the graphics to plum? I have so many creative ideas but don't know how to get the computer to do what I want!

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    1. oops I hit comment instead of reply but see below- hope this is helpful

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  12. So glad you enjoyed the project. I pasted the images in word ( the publishing layout view template) I click on the picture then click Format picture.(upper left) Underneath icons will appear and I click Recolor and lots of options appear to change the color. Not sure what prpgram your using though. If you like you could download mine from the post or click on the "contact us" and I could send it to you as an attachment Hope this helps I'm afraid I'm not very techy lol

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Love to hear your comments and suggestions!