Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visions of Sugarplums...

I've been putting together our friend/neighbor/co-worker gifts.

And can I just say, BLESS the INTERNETS?! Because without the internets, how would I have ever found a recipe for Sugar Plums, I ask you??

So, first, we took our inspiration from one of my favorite blogs and went to Goodwill and Salvation Army to rummage for old china plates and candlesticks. (I'm going to be on a hunt for these from now on.) We took those and attached a china plate to a candlestick and *ta da!*... darling cake plate. An example from Miss Michelle...

from Three Men and a Lady

*sigh* I want her thrift stores.  Okay. Now, what to put on the plates?

First, I found a recipe for Sugar Plums. Okay, I should clarify, I found LOTS of recipes that were ALL different and they seemed to contradict each other. After looking through many of them, I finally went with this one from Handmade Homeschool:

Sugar Plums
3/4 c. almonds or pistachios
1/2 c. each of dried dates, apricots, and figs (I couldn't find figs, so I used dried cherries.)
3 T. orange juice
2 tsp grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (and I'm a huge cinnamon fan, but really--1/4 tsp is plenty here)

Chop all of those up until the nuts are the size of peppercorns.(Or you can put them in a processor and chop 'em up that way, if you're all fancy like that.) Once combined, form into 1-2 inch balls and then roll in sugar. Chill until firm. (Bonus--these are actually pretty dang healthy and low calorie. Like we care right now.)

Next up, my "famous" (to me) truffles...

Chocolate Truffles
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/3 c. sugar
6 T. butter
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T. shortening

1. Mix cream, sugar, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1 c. chocolate chips and stir until chips are melted. Add vanilla. Pour into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight to allow mixture to ripen and harden.
2. Remove from fridge and form into 1/2 inch balls, working quickly to prevent melting. Place on wax paper on cookie sheet. Chill again several hours.
3. To make chocolate coating, melt 2 c. chocoalte chips and shortening on top of a double boiler. Remove from heat and cool until just warm (85 degrees), stirring constantly. Dip each truffle into chocoalte with fork; gently tap fork on side of bowl to remove excess coating. Invert candies on to wax paper and let chill until set.

You could stop there. Seriously. You could. But why???

Let's do cake balls!

You can use any cake and frosting combination, except spice cake and vanilla frosting. Because we did that one once, and it was gross.  But for our Christmas plates, we're doing our favorite: German chocolate with pecan frosting.

Cake Balls
Make your cake in a 9x13 pan. Bake, and cool.  Crumble into a large bowl and mix in one FULL can of frosting until everything is sticky.  Form into 1-2 inch balls and chill for at least two hours. Dip balls into melted chocolate chips or dipping chocolate.  Chill on wax paper, until firm.

The goodness of cake balls is not to be underestimated. I really think we should start airlifting them into war torn countries and give peace a chance.

Finally, peppermint bark.

image from Beyond Recipes

Peppermint Bark

1 pound white chocolate (not chips)
2 c. Rice Krispies
7 1/2 ounces peppermint candies, crushed and then run through a sieve to separate big pieces from the dust.

Melt chocolate over a double boiler, 4-6 minutes.
Add cereal and mix.
Press mixture into a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and sprinkle with crushed candy.
Chill for no more than 20-30 minutes and then break into pieces. Store at room temperature.

Yay! Holiday goodies. It's so fun to make a gigantic mess of your kitchen and spend WAY more money on a homemade gift than a store-bought one. I'll get a picture of our finished product when they're all done and put together tomorrow.

Happy Christmas-ing!


  1. To quote Fred "Would you be mine? Would you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor!" (can you hear his little melody in your mind?) Sigh- how delightful! I would not get past the thrift store!

  2. yum! everything sounds amazing!!

  3. So funny, I love the comment to spend way more on a homemade gift...that is so true at times.

  4. I just tried making the sugar plums and I don't have the fancy food processor, or evidently the patience to chop them small enough, because mine didn't stick together. It tastes really good eaten with a spoon too, just so you know.

  5. Mandi--I just hand chopped 'em, too. If you added a bit more orange juice and really smushed 'em in your hands, they might stick better. At least, adding a tad more juice was the key for me. Yummy though, right? Now I'm daydreaming about how good they'd be with their real ingredient of brandy.... ;)

  6. Thanks for the reference! I might have to try that sugar plum recipe. I'd love to see how your plates turn out!