What better way to start the holiday month than with an old favorite recipe. When making Christmas treats, be sure to remember this one as it is a welcome addition to plates of sweets and gift-giving boxes as well.
2 cups shelled almonds
up to 3 dozen large pitted prunes, dates, dried apricots or figs, depending on size
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon mace
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup orange liqueur, rum or brandy
Roast the nuts in a single layer in a 350-degree F. oven for about 12 minutes or until the insides are a dark gold. Cool completely.
Depending on the fruits you are using, slit down one side of each fruit or prepare them for a filling.
Using a food processor, combine the almonds, the 2 tablespoons brandy, spices in the bowl and process stopping from time to time to mix in the bits at the bottom. The mixture should be crumbly that will barely hold together when squeezed. Add the butter, honey and process briefly until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be of a cohesive paste.
Make balls of mixture as big as needed to fill the fruits you are using. Pour the liquor in a shallow dish and dip each ball of filling in the liquor. Insert the dripping ball into the fruit slit side up so that the fruit will absorb as much liquor as possible. Pinch the slit together and mold as necessary to form the sugarplums. Roll in confectioners’ sugar if desired.
Pack between wax paper if storing in a tin or arrange on a serving plate and cover with plastic wrap.
Note: Make the filling as a candy by shaping it into teaspoon size balls and rolling each in confectioners’ sugar or cocoa. It is also a good filling for pecan or walnut halves making tiny sandwiches for real nut lovers.