Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Countdown to Christmas - Swedish Sugar Plums

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These cookies should join noodles, pancakes and flatbreads, as another example of how some foods are repeatedly "discovered" in different parts of the world. If you scan the recipe, you'll see just how much like Mexican Wedding or Russian Tea Cakes these Swedish Sugar Plums actually are. I, of course, think they have an edge and infinitely superior to their cousins because these were the cookies of my childhood. I first saw them being made towards the end of WWII when they were made with margarine and cardamom that was shipped from a Swedish Covenant Church somewhere in the South. At that time, margarine came in white blocks with color packets that had to be worked into the gooey mass to make it look more like butter and less like lard. Most adults disliked the chore, but kids, including me, loved this Sawyer-esque chore and volunteers were always available. I was a champion squisher and my prowess got me into Mrs. P's kitchen where I got to watch her Christmas baking marathon. The cardamom sets these cookies apart from their Mexican and Russian cousins, and if you enjoy them and like cardamom, you will love this version of the cookies. If you store them in an air-tight container they will keep for a week, but you will need to re-coat them with powdered sugar before you serve them. This is an easy, near effortless cookie to make, and I know that those of you who try this recipe will not be disappointed. Here is how the Swedish Sugar Plums are made.

Swedish Sugar Plums...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite


3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar + additional sugar for finishing, divided use
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cold water
2 cups sifted flour
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, chopped


1) Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Blend in lemon zest, cardamom, salt, vanilla extract and water. Gradually add sifted flour, blending well after each addition. Stir in chopped almonds. Chill dough for 30 to 60 minutes.
2) Move one rack to upper third of oven before preheating oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.
3) Using a teaspoon measure, roll dough into small balls and place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake in upper third of oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Roll at once in sifted powdered sugar. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container. Roll in sifted powdered sugar again, just before serving. Yield: 4 dozen cookies.

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Ginny Hartzler said...

I think there are many different kinds of sugarplums. and I wouldn't mind sampling one of each kind! These are pretty, they look like donut holes or snowballs.

Anonymous said...

they do sound like Russian Tea cakes! I think the cardamon sounds like a wonderful addition, I just bought some too so I will try these! I remember the margarine squeezing adventures too!

Unknown said...

I love to hear the stories of your childhood and Mrs. P! Thanks so much for sharing... and these cookies sound oh, so delicious!!

Susan Lindquist said...

OH! I always knew the Swedes MUST have a version of these cookies that I always called Russian Teacakes! My husband is Swedish, but way of his father, but his mother never learned any Swedish cooking. A shame. He will love that I have found this recipe! Thanks, Mary!!!


I like the little added bits of flavor.


Big Dude said...

I love the other versions so I'm sure I would like these as well. I can't imagine these addictive little babies lasting a week though.

Beverly said...

Mary, my mother always baked similar cookies, but no lemon zest and cardamom. And, she used pecans. Yours sound delicious. I wish I had one right now.

Thank you for your visit yesterday. Day two post is up now.

Life's a shoe said...

wow this is awesome!


David said...

Mary, Thanks for the memories! I don't think that I've had any of these Christmas cookies for 30 years or more... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

The lemon and cardamom sound great in this recipe. I make Russian Tea Cakes and they are always a favorite. Love it!

Alessandra said...

These look so nice Mary, I love biscuits with cardamom. Thank you so much for sharing.


Life's a shoe said...

wow this sounds really good!


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