I’ve been having visions. Visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. (Let’s see how many times I say sugar plum in this post.)
No really, I’ve had this idea developing for weeks, but I’ve been waiting for plums to come into season to do it.
I am a huge fan of The Nutcracker. I have an aunt who used to take me to see it preformed by the Nashville Ballet every Christmas. It’s so amazing to watch all of those beautiful ballerinas balancing on their tippy toes and dancing around the stage. It was so much fun. Especially the part where we joked about them needing to give it an above PG rating because of all those men in tights, Jeez!
I always wanted to be a ballerina when it was over, who wouldn’t? In fact, my sisters and I thought we were already ballerinas sometimes. We used to choreograph all of these little dance shows in our bedroom and set up curtains around our closet. Then we would bribe our brothers into holding the high-tech lighting equipment (flashlights) and draft everyone that was left into sitting and watching the entire thing. So much fun…but I’m getting way off subject here, sorry.
My favorite of all the dancers in the show was, of course, the sugar plum fairy. She would come out in her gorgeous dress and own the completely stage every time. When I first started brainstorming for Christmas ideas I immediately thought of The Nutcracker and knew I wanted to make something with sugar plums. That’s when I realized I had no idea what the heck a sugar plum actually is, do you?
As it turns out, sugar plums are an old-fashioned treat made with dried fruit and nuts. They’re basically old lady versions of energy bites. Apparently, they used to be a luxury item before machines because they took days to make (thank goodness for Wikipedia). They sometimes don’t even contain plums. What?
Okay, as delicious as plum-nut-old-lady balls sound I was kind of thinking more along the lines of sparkles and pale purple and, and the sugar plum fairy. One of my favorite Christmas inspired recipes that I’ve seen this year have been sugared cranberries. We can’t but cranberries here but why can’t plums be done like that too. That’s what I had been picturing in the first place so I went for it. I made sugared plums to go with my sugar plum cupcakes wich do in fact contain plums. The sugar plums are nt very practical for actually eating because most of the sugar falls of before you’ve finished, but aren’t they gorgeous?
I did a few trials to get just what I wanted for these cupcakes. They are purple inside, naturally, and slightly mildly fruity. I tried using only plums to acheive the color but after some testing ended up with a cupacake that combines strawberries, blueberries, and plums to get that pretty color. Then I topped them with my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting and everyone loved them.
What do you invision when you hear the words sugar and plum?
- 8 - 10 plums
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups additional sugar for rolling
- 8 medium fresh strawberries, stems cut off
- 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
- 4 medium plums, pitted
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
- 1 - 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- purple food coloring (optional)
- Combine 1/2 cup sugar and water in a medium saucepan over low heat and dissolve the sugar. Simmer just until you start to see tiny bubbles coming up in the center. Remove from heat and dip plums a few at a time and place on a wire rack to dry for about 1 hour and reserve sugar water. You may have to dip them again a few times after the hour if they are not well coated. You want them to look wet and you will be able to clearly see where the drops have formed and they are dry and not shiny. Mostly coated is fine. When they heve dried for about 1 hour after the last dip, place one at a time into a bowl of sugar and rotate the bowl to roll the plum in it, like a hula hoop. Place them back on rack and allow them to dry for about 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and puree blueberries, strawberries, and plums in food processor. Add butter, and sugar and pulse until smooth. Add all other ingredients and pulse until smooth. Line two 12-cavity cupcake pans with paper liners and spoon batter into them. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
- Beat butter in a large mixing bowl until creamed. Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add 1 tablespoon of milk or more if needed and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in a few drops of purple food coloring if desired and use a pastry bag and tip to pipe onto cupcakes.