Today’s cookie is the sugarplum. What better recipe to share on Christmas Eve than sugarplums? After all, as the story goes Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The children were nestled all snug in their beds. While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. These goodies were first mentioned in the year 1608 in Lanthorne and Candlelight by Thomas Decker. Since then the sugar plum has shown up in Christmas classics like The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The following recipe comes from King Arthur Flour:
- 10 ounces dried fruit, chopped (a scant 2 cups chopped)*
- 3 tablespoons brandy or rum
*Use just one favorite dried fruit, or an imaginative combination. We like cranberries, apricots, pineapple, and a touch of crystallized ginger.
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter
- 1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup (3 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) boiled cider*
- 2 tablespoons (1 3/8 ounces) light or dark corn syrup
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts**
*Or substitute light or dark corn syrup.
**Toast nuts in a preheated 350°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they’re golden brown and smell roasted.
- 1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) Baker’s Special (extra-fine or superfine) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon tart and sour flavor, optional
- Chop the fruit fairly fine in a food processor. Combine with the liquor, cover, and let rest overnight. Or speed things up by microwaving the fruit and liquor (in a covered bowl) for about 1 minute, till the liquid is very hot. Leave the fruit covered, and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, spices, and baking powder, then beat in the egg, scraping the bowl. Add the flour, then the cider, syrup, fruit (with any remaining liquid), and nuts.
- Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls (a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes; the cookies will look soft, and will just be starting to brown on the bottom. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes.
- While the cookies are cooling, place the sugar in a medium-sized plastic bag. If you’re using the tart and sour flavor, first combine the sugar and flavor in a mini food processor or blender, and blend till smooth.
- While the cookies are still hot, gently squeeze them into balls. Place cookies in the bag, 6 or 8 at a time, and shake gently till they’re coated with sugar. Place on a rack to cool. Store airtight. If you’ve stored cookies for awhile, shake with sugar again just before serving, if desired.
These cookies are out of this world. Everything about them screams Christmas spirit. No wonder visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. The textures and flavors are magnificent and this is an easy and inexpensive recipe to create. Baltimore City residents can purchase the ingredients for this recipe at the following locations: Whole Foods Market 1330 Smith Avenue Baltimore, MD 21209 and Giant Foods 1020 41st Street Baltimore, MD 21211.