The Savage Approach
I am, by definition, a renaissance man. I have acquired proficiency in diverse areas, one of them being graphic design. I was listening to National Public Radio one morning and heard an interview with a chef who was talking about sugarplums. Like you, I have heard of them since I was a child, but I had never tasted one.
I began doing research into the subject. Here is a brief synopsis of what I found.
Sugarplums were a mainstay of the Christmas holidays as recently as the 19th century. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word sugarplum thusly: "A small round or oval sweetmeat, made of boiled sugared and variously flavoured and coloured; a comfit." The earliest mention of this particular food is 1668. The term also has another meaning "Something very pleasing or agreeable; esp. when given as a sop or bribe”, which dates to 1608.
Sharon Cohen, in her Historical Cookery article, has detailed instructions on how to make sugarplums as they were produced in the 16th century. Sugar was then extremely expensive and the process time consuming. It was a sugared fruit, a treat to be saved for special occasions. I would assume only the rich could afford them.
Sugarplums evolved over the years. Here is a more recent definition. “A sugarplum is a piece of dragée, from the French, ultimately from Greek tragêmata "sweets, treats", a form of confection.”
Chef Peter Greweling said, "In today's world, you could pick any flavor profile you wanted to and create a sugarplum with it." I took that approach. I started with several of Chef Greweling’s freely available recipes and then added my own. I make the sugarplums using all organic and natural ingredients with no preservatives.
As an artist and designer, I wanted to add my unique mark to this historical treat. I did so using new recipes, shape, color, and hand made stems. I view the entire process as art, a sentiment that is shared, I'm sure, by famous chefs and confectioners when producing their own distinctive delights.
I created my own natural colored coatings, free from any artificial dyes. I designed a sugarplum press and crease roller. I was able to carry the development even further by designing all graphic elements for my packaging. I paint the entire canvas – so to speak.
Sugarplums were a mainstay of the Christmas holidays as recently as the 19th century, but they have fallen out of favor in recent years. I would like to see them make a come back.