Easy to prepare no-bake, make-ahead fruit and nut truffles made with cranberries and pistachios make for a sweet treat this holiday season.
The word sugar-plum, evokes a quaint sense of old-world whimsy and yuletide celebrations gone by. We think of Clement Clark Moore’s famous poem where “children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…” or the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky’s The Nut Cracker.
But what exactly is a sugar-plum?
While some may conclude by the name alone that it refers to a plum of a similar name, this Christmas-time confection is not a plum at all, nor is it required to consist of any. The true origins of the term sugar-plum has unfortunately been lost over time and faded into historical obscurity, but it is thought to once have referred to any dried fruit or sweet confection.
The confection we have come to associate with the word sugar-plum today primarily contains dried fruits and nuts combined with holiday spices. It signifies everything simple, sweet and delectable about the holiday season.
While sugar-plums were a mainstay of holiday seasons of past they have fallen out of favor in recent years in favor of cookies and other sugar-filled sweets. I think they may be due for a comeback. Wholesome and easy to prepare, they can be made in less than 15 minutes with a food processor. These no-bake, make-ahead fruit and nut “truffles” can also be stored for weeks in the refrigerator, perfect during the entertaining season.
Here nuts, dried cranberries, orange zest and dates are finely chopped, held together by a splash of Cointreau and finished with a light coat of chopped pistachios. At first bite a melting and subtle sweetness leads to the fragrant almost floral taste of orange peel and Cointreau swiftly followed by the tartness of cranberry. Serve them with coffee or tea for an afternoon or after dinner treat.
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday.