Sugarplums! When you say the word, doesn’t it conjure up all the traditional stories of Christmas?
I’ve never known what “sugarplums” are. I figured they were something like a gumdrop. I believe that’s because – in some of the old Christmas picture books – “sugarplums” are depicted in bright colors, and are sugar-coated, much like gum drops.
But sugarplums are much much more than gumdrops. (And better for you too!)
And so, in our Martin & Sylvia story “Living Room Nutcracker," there’s a whole-family production of the ballet at Martin and Sylvia’s house. Martin recreates the entire event for his sister, Sylvia, in the funniest and most delightful way! And there are not only SugarPlum Fairies to make the evening complete, but also real sugarplums to enjoy at the end of the performance.
(And then — of course — Daddy has to make something creative out of it all, and thus his original creation: “SugarPlum Bunny Bites!”)
This Martin & Sylvia story — called “Living Room Nutcracker” — is one of our best. It’s absolutely delightful and so funny. Sit together as a family to listen. You’ll be glad you did!
Below are recipes for both of the treats that Martin and Sylvia enjoy, so that you can try them along with the story!
Who would have thought that “sugarplums” are made of dried fruit and nuts! There’s honey and a little powdered sugar within. And some spices to make them rich and complex.
These are sweet and hearty little treats — and between the protein-packed nuts, the nutrient-dense, fiber-rich fruits, and the medicinal qualities of those spices (anise, fennel and caraway are all super for digestion) — I do believe we can say these sweet treats are Good For You!
3 ounces almonds, roughly chopped
3 ounces hazelnuts, roughly chopped
4 ounces dried plums
4 ounces dried apricots
4 ounces dried figs (with the stems removed)
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch sea salt
¼ cup honey
1 cup coarse unrefined sugar
Put the almonds, hazelnuts, plums, apricots, and figs into a food processor and process — pulsing over and over — until the fruit and nuts are chopped into small pieces. (But stop before the mixture turns into a ball.)
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the anise, fennel and caraway seeds with the cardamom, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the nut and fruit mixture and the honey and mix with your hands until well combined.
Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture, and roll it into a ball. Then roll the ball in the coarse sugar and serve. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
(If not serving immediately, do not roll in sugar. Store in an airtight container, and roll in sugar before serving. These balls can be stored for up to a month.)
Quick note: If you want them to be a little simpler, leave out the seeds. A little cardamom will give a bit of spice, and they’ll be equally as delicious.
SUGARPLUM BUNNY BITES
The morning of the Nutcracker Production, Martin asks, “What are we having for breakfast, Daddy – sugarplums?”
“Sugarplum Bunny Bites” said Daddy, as he placed two bowls in front of them, “Special sugar plum granola with dates and nuts. And would you like some yoghurt on top?”
You know Daddy — he’s always making something creative in the kitchen. And so this is his morning-of-the-Nutcracker recipe for granola — inspired by Sylvia’s “Sugarplum Bunny” — that’s packed with sugarplum ingredients!
It’s not your run-of-the-mill granola. In fact, it’s very creative and good! (My boys agreed. Little brother ate two bowls! And David added, “Some of the best granola I’ve ever had!”)
3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
½ cup almonds, chopped
½ cup hazelnuts, chopped
¼ cup dried figs, chopped
¼ cup dried dates, chopped
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup gluten free baking mix (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
⅛ tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp sea salt
⅓ cup cold-pressed vegetable oil
⅔ cup rice syrup
¼ cup almond milk (or other alternative milk)
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix oats, nuts, dried fruit, flour, salt, cardamom and cinnamon. In a 2nd bowl, combine oil, rice syrup, almond milk and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing to combine. Line a large baking sheet or shallow baking dish with parchment paper, and spread the mixture in a thin layer. Bake at 300 for 45 minutes to an hour, turning every 15 minutes to ensure an even toasting.
Serve with milk and/or yogurt, and a little bit of honey if you want some extra sweet!
And then, if you feel inspired, invite everyone into Sugarplum Fairy dance all about the kitchen. It makes the experience particularly magical.
If you liked this recipe, here are others you might enjoy:
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.