Visions of Sugarplums....
The idea came to me to make sugarplums. I have a very very old memory of a silver tray with shiny prunes stuffed with something wonderful and fancily decorated atop a pretty doily. But when I looked for recipes I mostly found they were a finely chopped mix of dried fruits, nuts and more, rolled into balls. I would love to hear what others have to say about sugarplums and any old family recipes would be really a plus!
I have a family recipe for apricot sugarplums that my grandmother used to make--no idea where she got it from. You grind up dried apricots, a whole orange, and a lot of sugar together, then cook the mixture on the stovetop for about 20 min and drop onto waxed paper. They are sticky and very sweet, but have a tartness that balances it out somewhat.
Mimi Sheraton's cookbook Visions of Sugarplums claims that sugarplums originated in Portugal as figs or green plums cooked in sugar syrup. She includes a a recipe for 'Byzantine Sugarplums' with dates, figs, raisins, currants, walnuts or almonds, pistachios, crystallized ginger, orange rind, lemon juice or brandy, and sugar to roll in, as well as other variations that call for stuffing figs with chocolate and almonds, or stuffing apricots prunes, dates, or figs with marzipan and rolling in sugar. She also considers gilded whole walnuts to be a type of sugarplum. The Joy of Cooking doesn't have a recipe for sugarplums, although it has several fruit-candy recipes that sound very similar to these, based on figs, raisins, dates, prunes, and apricots.
Interestingly, this article claims that the whole idea of sugarplums being made of dried fruit is a modern misconception and says that originally they were more like Jordan almonds: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/arc...