You don't just have to have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head ...
|Whole glacé pears at 53 Degrees East|
However fancy we may get at the rest of the year, at Yuletide, everyone seems to want to go back to something traditional, something cosy. Something positively medieval.
Sugar plums actually came about in the seventeenth century. Not necessarily dried plums (aka prunes) they were dried fruits mixed with spices and sweeteners and given a hard coating. The coating process was long and dull and led to an end result with a hard shell - like sugar almonds or (more prosaically) M&Ms.
|Glacé whole clementines at the Essential Ingredient|
|Glacé cherries at the Essential Ingredient|
You can still find sweets like this today - known in the confectionery world as dragée. Or you can plump for the soft sweetness of glacé fruit, a fourteenth century staple. We have an amazing selection here at the Market. Wandering through the Essential Ingredient I found whole clementines! Pear quarters! Cedro! And dried cherries, blueberries and cranberries.
And at Pete n Rosie's Deli, you can select your precise weight of sour cherries. Incidentally, these are perfect atop Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and are almost impossible to find elsewhere in this natural state.
|Cherries at Pete n Rosie's Deli|
|Glacé peaches at the Sweet and Nut Shop|
For best results, you must steep your fruits in alcohol months in advance. Most hard core CWA types will stick to maturing it in brandy or rum, me I like fig liquer. But some of these more unusual glacé offerings are so light that it would almost be a shame to drown their delicacy with a heavy, cloying liquer.
Fruits can be mixed into plum puddings, mince tarts, fruit cake and the perennial Australian favourite, ice cream pudding. With Melbourne's changeable weather, you never know what you might need to have on hand!
|Glacé Fruit Gift Pack at the Sweet and Nut Shop|
|Glacé fruit at 53 Degrees East|