Festive Sugar Plums - Old Fashioned Sweetmeats

Total Time
Prep 5 mins
Cook 0 mins

I love the Nutcracker Ballet and the music that accompanies it, especially the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies! These fabulous little festive sweetmeats are based on a recipe that I adapted from Delia Smith's latest and BRILLIANT cookbook, "Happy Christmas". I have made these TWICE already - as a pre-Christmas dummy run, and they are SO easy as well as being extremely delicious! Sugar plums are mentioned in all forms of literature; most famously in “The Night Before Christmas”…………“The children were nestled, all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads". However, they are a VERY old kind of sweet/candy, and I have traced some recipes right back to the Middle Ages in one guise or another, usually with minced meat hence “sweet meat”. This recipe can be made as a boozy after dinner adult treat, or with orange juice so the children can dream of them dancing in their heads! NB: These are great fun to make with the children, as they are easy as well as being "no-cook". If you plan to make them for gifts or to sell, pack them into attractive cellophane bags, glass jars or boxes and add a pretty ribbon as well as a label of ingredients and storage details. This recipe is part of my Old Fashioned Sweet Shop collection of recipes, sweets, candies, fudges, sugar plums and chocolates!

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 200 g luxury dried fruits (a medley of raisins, currants, citrus peel, sultanas, apricots, figs, dates etc.)
  • 25 g ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons glace ginger, chopped
  • 1 orange, zest of, grated medium
  • 2 -3 teaspoons brandy or 2 -3 teaspoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice (or a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves and allspice)
  • 12 pistachio nuts
  • 3 red glace cherries


  1. Put all of the dried fruit, ground almonds and glace ginger into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the grated orange zest and mix well. Then add the brandy or orange juice and pulse briefly until the mixture comes together.
  2. Mix the sugar and mixed spice together.
  3. Divide the sugar plum fruit mixture into 12 pieces and then roll into small balls, before rolling them in the spiced sugar to coat them all thoroughly.
  4. Cut the pistachios into slivers and cut the cherries into quarters, then push the pistachio slivers and cherry pieces into the top of the sugar plums, to imitate leaves and berries.
  5. Place them into small paper cases if you wish and store them in an airtight tin for up to 4 weeks if made with brandy, or up to 2 weeks in the fridge if made with orange juice.
  6. You may be able to perform the Nutcracker ballet now - or not!
Most Helpful

Don't know if I got more enjoyment from making these or from eating them, but they are certainly wonderful in both respects! I included Medjool dates here as well as figs, apricots, pears & peaches, then OJ instead of brandy! Left out the glace cherries 'cause I didn't have any left from the holidays, but these great tasties will be on my list to make again near the end of the year, at which time I'll have all the needed ingredients, for sure! Thanks for a great keeper! [Made & reviewed for one of my groupmates in the Aus/NZ Recipe Swap #38]

Sydney Mike March 18, 2010

I decided to make these sugar plums since I had a surplus of dried fruits for holiday baking. Didn't have the ginger or cherries on hand but still had great results. I used a combination of dried apricots, dates, and a cranberry, cherry, and blueberry mix. Used Brandy and the zest of 3/4 of an orange. Since I didn't have the recommended decor I opted for slivers of blanched almonds as little stems. The taste is fresh and rich, not too sweet, and great to accompany many holiday snacks and dishes. These would taste especially nice with a tangy, semi soft cheese. They just seem like a treat French families would nibble on at a Christmas party by a warm fire. I plan on trying this with different fruit combinations, like pear, apricots, golden raisins, lime, and sparkling wine. And, hopefully the candied ginger will make it in . Also plan on putting these on meat and cheese platters for holiday parties.

shelteredcreature November 26, 2014

Made these and 1 more of your candy recipes posted, these were very good, easy to make and with a lovely flavor. we also liked the spiced sugar and the holiday trimmings of nuts and cherries. making more to give as gifts and using brandy next time as these were made for the kids with juice. we love your recipes btw.

RecipeJedi December 16, 2009