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Sparkly Sugar Plums Recipe

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What is a sugar plum and how do you make it? It’s one of the most iconic Christmas desserts and yet most people have never had it. Here’s what you need to know!

What is a Sugar Plum?

You have probably heard ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas several hundred times, but if you are like me, you may not have stopped to find out just what a sugar plum is after hearing the sugar plum verse:

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

I always assumed that sugar plums referred to sugared and baked plums.

Even the sugar plum fairy from The Nutcracker didn’t give me a clue as to what to expect from sugar plums.

When I began my search to answer, “What is a sugar plum,” I found two excellent sugar plum recipes, one from Nourished Kitchen and another from Running to the Kitchen (inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe); both treat a sugar plum as a no-bake dessert made with dried fruit (including prunes, dried plums), nuts, honey, and spices, and rolled in sugar.

These glittery sugar plums are my take on these two recipes.

How Were Traditional Sugar Plums Made?

Only after I created my sugar plum recipe did I discover the truth about sugar plums – sadly, traditional sugar plums have nothing at all to do with plums!

For the full story, I highly encourage you to read an article in The Atlantic entitled Sugar Plums: They Are Not What You Think They Are by Samira Kawash, author of Candy Professor.

I was saddened to discover that my sugar plums are not quite authentic. However, Kawash’s article in The Atlantic states that “plum doesn’t just mean fruit; it can mean all manner of good things.”  By that definition, my recipe certainly fits the bill.

What Do My Sugar Plums Taste Like?


I made my sugar plums with a few of my favorite things – toasted walnuts, dried fruit, honey, and lots of spices.
They could be called healthy – before you roll them in sugar.
These sugar plums taste more like energy bars than cookies, which is actually a good thing around Christmas time when we are bombarded with sweet after sweet.

Sugar Plum Recipe

As noted above, my recipe is a meld of recipes from Nourished Kitchen and Running to the Kitchen (inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe). You’ll notice that the recipe uses coriander. It’s an unusual spice in modern day desserts, but if you read The Atlantic article that I referenced above, you’ll see that the original sugar plum was a coriander candy.
Although completely non-traditional, I roll my sugar plums in sparkly glitter. I originally used Disco Dust, but I now suggest using grape soda Jewel Dust. The glitter helps them garner the special place that they deserve on the holiday table.

Is Disco Dust Safe to Eat

When I originally posted this recipe using Disco Dust, I received numerous comments from people weighing in on the fact that Disco Dust is actually made of plastic and isn’t meant to be consumed. Eek!

It turns out that some brands of edible glitter are FDA-approved as safe to eat and some are not. Jewel Dust sold by Layer Cake Shop is an example of an edible glitter that is FDA approved. 

If you've tried this recipe, please RATE THE RECIPE and leave a comment below!

Sugar Plums
4.67 from 3 votes

Sparkly Sugar Plums

An easy sugar plum recipe for Christmas with a little sparkle. 'Tis the season! 

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Christmas, Christmas dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 50 sugar plums
Calories 47 kcal


  • 2 cups toasted walnuts chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup pitted prunes finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots finely chopped
  • 1/2 cut pitted dates finely chopped
  • powdered sugar for rolling coating the balls
  • grape soda Jewel Dust


  1. Mix all ingredients except the sugar and Jewel Dust together in a large bowl. Optionally, place the whole mixture in the food processor and process for a few seconds - this will help everything to stick together, especially if you aren't the best at finely chopping. (I'm raising my hand high on this one.)

  2. Form the mixture into teaspoon-sized balls.
  3. Roll the balls in powdered sugar and then roll in Jewel Dust. Note: If you let the balls sit overnight, the powdered sugar will absorb into the balls and will be less visible.

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