Kid's Kitchen: Visions of Sugar Plums

kitchen tested by Marc and Matthew Marshall

You don't have to wait until the night before Christmas to dream about these sugar plums. You could keep the candy tray filled with these very special, simple-to-make sweets all season long if you could just get everyone else to stop eating them (not much chance of that). Luckily, they are almost as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Island Fruit Candies

You'll have to resist licking your fingers while you're making these yummy and wholesome treats from Hawaii, but it's worth the wait.

1 cup raisins
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup pitted prunes
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup crystallized ginger
Confectioners sugar

1. Chop the fruit, nuts, and ginger as fine as possible (if you have a blender or food processor, have an adult help you use it).
2. Mix everything together and shape into walnut-size balls with dampened hands.
3. Roll the balls in confectioners sugar.

Palm Tree Sugar Plums

From California's Coachella Valley come plump dates like the ones that grew in the Holy Land at the first Christmas. Stuffed with little balls of marzipan (a sweetened mixture of finely ground almonds) or Brazil nuts, they are sugar plums fit for the fanciest party.

California dates, pitted
Whole shelled Brazil nuts or almond paste or marzipan (available in packages or cans)

1. Stuff each date with a whole Brazil nut or a small nut-size ball of almond paste.
2. Roll in granulated sugar.

Note: Packaged dates are fresh dates--they pick them when they are very ripe and naturally "candied." As fresh fruit, they should be stored in the refrigerator if possible.

Ohio Buckeyes

You may know the no-cook peanut butter candy part of this recipe as the year-round favorite Peanut Butter Clay. For a fancy Christmas candy, dress little balls of the peanut butter clay in a chocolate coat.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 6-ounce package chocolate chips

1. Mix butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla.
2. Shape into small balls and chill.
3. Melt chocolate over low heat in a small saucepan.
4. Using a toothpick to hold balls, dip each in chocolate leaving a small space on top free of chocolate so it resembles a buckeye nut.

Makes about 50 buckeyes (which disappear very fast). Keep chilled.

Sugar 'n' Spice Pecans

Pick the nicest whole pecan halves from the bag for these delicious crunchy candied nuts. They look like something an elf might use for a doorstop, but they smell and taste like Christmas.

1 egg white
1 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
Cooking oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Use two bowls. In first bowl, mix egg white and pecan halves until well coated.
3. In second bowl, mix sugar and spices.
4. Transfer egg-coated pecans to the second bowl.
5. Stir until they are well coated with sugar and spice
6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly oil with cooking oil.
7. Arrange pecans in a single layer about an inch apart on the oiled baking sheet.
8. Bake at 375 degrees until almost dry and golden (10-15 minutes).
9. Allow to cool for at least a minute before removing from foil.

Variation: Substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of apple-pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.


You can make these Snowballs even if you live where it never snows. This recipe is a great tasting way to use the broken pecans left after you have picked out the whole halves for Sugar 'n' Spice Pecans.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, broken
1 teaspoon vanilla
Confectioners sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix butter and sugar in a bowl until smooth.
3. Add flour, pecans, and vanilla and mix well.
4. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet (leave 1 inch around the balls).
5. Bake until set and light brown (about 12-17 minutes).
6. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
7. Roll the balls in confectioners sugar 1 or 2 times until nice and snowy.

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These recipes are copyright ©1999 William and Loretta Marshall.
Questions and comments can be sent here.
Page last updated 12/13/99.