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Published prior to 2008

How can visions of sugarplums dance in your head–when you have no idea what they are?! The original sugarplum (about the size of a prune-plum, thus the name) included a core of seeds–often caraway–coated with up to 12 separate layers of sugar syrup. Our version, loaded with rum-soaked fruit and toasted nuts, is quite a bit more interesting.

These bite-sized treats have at least a 3-month shelf life at room temperature, well wrapped. Like fruitcake (which they resemble quite a bit in taste), they stay moist, soft, and flavorful for weeks.

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.
Yield: about 4 dozen 1" sugarplums.

Variation: Want to add another layer of flavor (literally) to the sugarplums? After squeezing them into balls, roll them in a shallow pan of flavored syrup to coat; you’ll need about 1/3 cup of syrup. Try vanilla, pomegranate, white ginger, black currant, or the flavor of your choice. Place them on a rack to dry. When they’re still tacky but no longer wet, coat in sugar as directed above, and wrap well to store.


  • star rating 11/30/2014
  • Carolyn from Wichita
  • I like this recipe very much and make them every year. This year I "stole" the technique for something related. I had made tiny fruitcakes in mini muffin tins this summer, and they have been essentially sitting in brandy for months. Because they are very soft, I placed them on a sheet pan in a warm oven, and once warmed through, I rolled them in pomegranate syrup and then sugar, just like for this recipe. It worked like a charm. This technique is a good one and it's flexible.
  • star rating 09/27/2011
  • Sarah from California
  • I make these every christmas, i don't have KAF boiled cider so I boil my own. Then i dip in boysenberry pancake syrup before coating in sugar. DEEE licios, festive, and just how i always imagined a sugar plum tasting!
  • star rating 01/09/2011
  • blueberrygirl from KAF Community
  • This was an interesting "experiment" cookie. One I will not repeat however. I used a combination of apricots, cranberries and pineapple for the fruit mix -- thought the suggested candied ginger might add to much of a bite with the rum and all. Soaked the fruit for waaaay longer than 24 hours (forgot about it actually) and it came out great! Making them was a snap. Rolling them into balls HURT! They needed to be still rather hot in order for the ultra-fine sugar to adhere so my hands got very sore (burnt actually) from trying to roll them quickly. The other downfall is how they look after all is said and done. After the 6th person in a row asked why there were meatballs (really, they look EXACTLY like meatballs!!!) on the cookie tray, I threw them out. While not bad, interesting taste actually, these are unremarkable and get old quick (not even the really good spiced rum I used could make me eat more than 2 at a time).