“Snow was falling gently on the streets……, and people were hurrying home, their arms filled with gaily wrapped boxes and paper parcels from toy stores, candy shops, and bakeries. For it was Christmas Eve, and as twilight fell, the children throughout Germany waited in hushed expectation for night to arrive, and with it their gifts from the Christ Child.”
You might recognize this sentence. This is the first line from the book, “The Nutcracker”, by Prussian author E.T.A. Hoffmann written in 1816 and first performed in December of 1892.
And who doesn’t remember the dance of the sugar plum fairy and the nutcracker soldiers and of course, the Mouse King.
My table setting is perhaps reminiscent of the dinner that went before the gift giving, bed time and dream sequence.
Let’s start with the Menu….which begins with a roast Goose which would have most likely been on the menu in the 1800’s.
Since the children dream of sugar plums, I’ve added a recipe for this sweet delicacy.
I don’t know about you… but growing up, I thought sugar plums were a sort of pastel colored confectionary candy.
They are not.
They are a traditional “candy” made with dried fruit, toasted nuts and then these round balls are rolled in coarse sugar.
They are more like a fruit cake or energy bar made into balls and rolled in the sugar.
You can choose your preferred dried fruit…your imagination is your guide.
AND they are not pastel, but brownish in color, depending on the dried fruit you use.
They were considered a rare delicacy, made mostly by the wealthier families.
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
- 1/2 cup dried plums (or dried prunes)
- 1/4 cup dried apricots (or cranberries)
- 1/4 cup dried figs (or dried dates)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp cardamon
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- dash salt
- 1/2-1 cup coarse sugar (for rolling the balls)
- Using a food processor, chop the toasted almonds, plums, apricots, and figs, being careful to use pulse about 15-20 times. Do not let the mixture form a ball.
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cinnamon, cardamon, salt and honey. Add to the fruit and nut mixture, mixing using your hands. (I used plastic gloves)
- Form small balls with your hands or you can use a small ice cream or cookie scoop. (about 1/4-ounce portions) If making these sugar plums ahead of time, place the small balls on a cookie rack (uncovered) until ready to serve. Just before serving, roll the balls in the coarse sugar and serve immediately.
- The Sugar plums may be stored on a cooling/cookie rack or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for up to a week. After a week, store in an airtight container for up to a month.
So let’s begin with what the dining table might have looked like in the 1800’s.
Or at least in my mind this is what I would want the table to look like.
We start with the natural wood of my table, and topped it with copper chargers.
I also carried the copper theme by using my copper flatware and copper mules for egg nog.
The double napkins reflect the glitter gold on the dinnerware and glassware, which are all gold rimmed.
I love the old world look of the gold/copper rimmed wine glasses.
The napkin rings are gold, copper and crystal, reminiscent of that era.
Of course there has to be a nutcracker and he definitely is having a look of knight in shining armor as he sports a gold “JOY” dangle.
A white and gold Saint Nicholas holding a gold “NOEL” dangle, stands guard waiting for the formal dinner to end and the festivities with the children to begin.
Individual gold capped salt & pepper shakers sit at each place setting.
The centerpiece is surrounded by gold/copper flickering candle holders.
Poinsettias and eucalyptus line the center of the table.
On each corner of the table, you will see a porcelain white and gold coffee pot and the creamer and sugar sitting in small bowls to catch drips.
I have had the 12 place setting of dinnerware for years as it was a wedding gift. A salad plate sits on the dinner plate.
For a bit of greenery, I placed a sprig of rosemary from my herb garden, along with a name tag.
I was able to use pieces I have had for several years.
Now I want to go see the Nutcracker Ballet again….which is a Christmas tradition in our home.
I never tire of the story and marvel at the interpretations of the dancers.
Do you like the ballet story of Clara and her adventures?
AND have you ever made roast goose?
Have a Blessed Holiday.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Blessings to all
A special thanks to Rita of Panoply for putting together 18 stylists this Holiday season.
It is always an inspiration.