Victorian Sugarplums


In the Victorian era, sugarplums were a traditional Christmas delicacy. Remember "visions of sugarplums danced in their heads" from A Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas)? Classic!

For some reason this dried fruit sweet has passed into relative obscurity in modern times, but here's a simple-to-make version that combines candied pineapple, cherries, and flaked coconut as a moist stuffing for dates. Look for fresh Medjool dates, which are large, plump, and perfect for stuffing. The sugarplums need to mellow in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before serving, so plan accordingly.


1/2 cup glacéed cherries (chopped fine)
1/2 cup glacéed pineapple (chopped fine)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut (preferably flaked rather than shredded)
1 large egg white
1 1/2 pounds confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 1/2 pounds dates (preferably Medjool)


In a medium-size bowl, combine the cherries, pineapple, and coconut. Add the egg white and stir to coat the fruits. Sift in the confectioners' sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and stiff. Cover the bowl tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate the mixture for at least 3 days to allow the fruit to mellow.

With a small sharp knife, cut a lengthwise slit on one side of each date. Carefully remove the pit from each date; discard pits.

Place the fruit filling in a pastry bag (no tip needed); if your pastry bag is small, do this in batches. Pipe some of the filling into each date. Refrigerate the sugarplums, covered, for up to a week.

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