Visions Of Sugar Plums

The Nutcracker has long been a Christmas season tradition, from elementary school productions to the famed New York City Ballet. Unless you're the Grinch's cousin, I bet you recognize Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy when you hear it. But few people, despite any visions dancing through their heads, know what sugar plums are or what they taste like. And I hate to break it to you, but plums aren’t necessarily involved.

Although recipes are as varied as The Nutcracker productions, sugar plums have always been a combination of available fruits, nuts and honey. In fact, they were the favored confection of such historic figures as King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella and Benjamin Franklin.

The best part? They are soooo simple to make and they're raw. Yup, no baking required. There’s plenty of room for improvisation. While apricots, raisins and dates are common ingredients, any mix of dried fruits – including plums – works well. Enjoy this tasty treat!

Holiday Sugar Plums

1 C chopped pecans
1 C dried apricots

1 C pitted dates

1/2 C dried cranberries

1/2 C golden raisins

3 Tbsp orange juice

2 tsp orange zest

1/4 C raw honey

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 C coconut flakes

In a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Combine the apricots and dates in the food processor. Pulse briefly until roughly chopped. Add the cranberries and raisins, and continue pulsing until the fruit is evenly chopped and begins to clump.

Return the nuts to the food processor and add the orange juice, orange zest, honey, nutmeg and cardamom. Pulse until well mixed.

Shape into one-inch balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Roll balls in shredded coconut. Makes about three dozen sugar plums.

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