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Fruit and Nut Balls, or you may know them as
Sugarplums, are made with a variety of pureed dried
fruits and nuts held together with a little honey (golden syrup or
corn syrup) and a splash of alcohol (or fruit juice). I think what makes them so
tempting is all the ways they can be decorated. You can roll them
in different sugars (white, brown, or powdered), unsweetened cocoa powder, dried
sweetened or unsweetened coconut, grated
chocolate, and/or finely chopped nuts. But I must admit that my favorite way is to dip them in
melted dark chocolate as I love the combination of dried fruits, nuts, and
chocolate. They store
very well, and while perfect for
Christmas giving, they also make an excellent snack to take along on picnics
or hikes when you need a quick boost of energy.
Today we are fortunate to have a wide selection of dried fruits to choose
from. Where once we were limited to dates and raisins, it now seems that
every fruit imaginable is available dried. The quality of these fruits is
also excellent which makes for delicious Fruit and Nut Balls. When you
look at this recipe, don't think it is cast in stone. You need a total of
2 cups (280 grams) of dried fruits so feel free to vary both the type and amounts
of the fruits you choose. While I have
used dried dates, figs, cherries, and papapa, you can just as easily use
other dried fruits like prunes, raisins, cranberries, mango, pineapple,
and kiwi. But there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your
fruit. First, try to buy in bulk from a grocery store or natural food
store that has a high turnover. Not only will the fruit be fresher, but you
can see, smell, feel, and often taste the fruit to make sure it is
fresh and of high quality. Pre-packaged fruit can also be excellent but it
is harder to tell the quality of the fruit through the plastic bag. Make
sure to check the expiration date on the bag. Always
look for dried fruit that is plump, moist, and has good color. Never buy
fruit that is dried out or moldy. There is a debate about whether to
buy 'sulphured' or 'unsulphured' dried fruits. Some like to buy 'sulphured'
which means that it has been treated with a sulphur dioxide solution. This
preserves the fruit's bright color and makes the fruit very soft and moist. The downside is
that some people can taste the preservative and also feel flavor is
sacrificed for making the fruit look good.
Peanut Butter Balls have a
lovely coating of chocolate with a smooth and creamy filling that is
almost fudge-like in texture. more
traditionally a Christmas cookie that blends butter, sugar, and
flour to make a rich and delicate tasting cookie.
wouldn't seem complete without a batch of gingerbread men. Fragrant with
ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves the amount of which can be
adjusted to suit your own individual taste.
Spritz Cookies, also
known as Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies, are a
very popular Christmas cookie. They have a lovely vanilla flavor and
a rich buttery texture that is tender crisp.
A seasonal favorite,
buttery balls of dough are rolled in toasted nuts and filled with jam.
They get their name from the fact you use your "thumb" to
make an indentation into each ball of dough for the jam.
Snickerdoodles are an
old fashioned cookie that have a sugar cinnamon coating and a sweet
and buttery flavor. more
These melt-in-your mouth,
shortbread-like cookies go by many names; a Russian Tea Cake, a Mexican
Wedding Cake, an Italian Butter Nut, a Southern Pecan Butterball, a
Snowdrop, a Viennese Sugar Ball and a Snowball.
Coconut Macaroons have a
wonderfully sweet coconut flavor with a crisp exterior and a soft and
chewy texture. more
are dressed for
the holidays with their red and white stripes that are
tender crisp with a buttery sweet almond flavor.
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