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What Is a Sugar Plum, Anyway?
As this article explains, these treats with such lovely names are made of sugar hardened around a central seed in successive layers using a process called "panning" (think Jawbreakers). In Moore's time, they were often made with caraway or cardamom seeds, or almonds at the center; their shape resembled plums, hence the name. The essay also offers a very sweet reason for why Moore would have them dancing in children's heads.
These days, sugar plums aren't so popular, but recipes abound. Most don't even involve any cooking; they simply advise you to mix ingredients ranging from dates, walnuts, cranberries, prunes, hazelnuts, jam, sugar and spices; to almonds, honey, orange zest and apricots, roll them into a ball and coat them in sugar. Alton Brown's recipe comes with a helpful video (it's worth watching, if only for the drill sargeant fairy dancing above the food processor).
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