Twiggies, patties, yum-yums: finger lickin' goodies without sugar

Is it your habit to turn pounds of sugar into your Christmas confections year after year? Perhaps you could start a new family tradition, forgetting the batches of fudge you learned to make in adolescence and have probably been packaging for holidays ever since.

Instead, make some sugarplums much as the Egyptians did more than 4,000 years ago, using honey, seeds, and fruits. To give a professional touch and added charm, select attractive packaging. Your sugarplums will stay fresh for a very long time in a decorated metal container or glass candy jar. Fruit and Nut Twiggies 1/4 cup raisins 1/3 cup apple juice 1/4 cup dates 1 cup ground almonds 1 cup ground cashews

Finely grated unsweetened coconut

Place raisins in small bowl and add apple juice to cover. Let soak several hours, or overnight.

Blend raisins, juice, and dates in electric blender until well mixed. Add more juice if necessary. Mix fruit with ground nuts and form into sticks 2 inches long by 1/2-inch in diameter. Roll in coconut. Makes 1 dozen. Sesame Seed Patties 1 cup sesame seeds Honey to taste 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/2 cup raisins 18 walnut or pecan halves

Place seeds in an electric blender and blend until they are a smooth mass.

Turn onto board and gradually knead in honey. Knead in almond extract. Work in raisins, and when mixture forms a compact ball, pinch off small pieces and shape into flat rounds. Press half a walnut into each candy. Store covered in refrigerator. Makes 18. Apricot Snowballs 1 8-ounce package dried apricots 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar 2 teaspoons orange juice or apricot nectar Sugar (optional)

Using medium blade of food grinder, grind apricots into small bowl.

With hands, mix in coconut, confectioners' sugar, and juice. Shape mixture into 1/2-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 30 . Yum-Yum Balls 1/2 cup natural peanut butter 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut 1/4 cup chopped cashews 1 tablespoon orange juice 1/2 cup chopped dates 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds 1/4 cup honey

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Store in closed container in refrigerator. Makes about 3 dozen. Fig Slices 1 8-ounce package dried figs 1/2 cup golden raisins 1 cup creamy peanut butter 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar Grated peel of 1 lemon

Into medium bowl, using coarse blade of food grinder, grind figs and raisins. Stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed.

Divide mixture in half and roll each half into a 10-inch roll. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When chilled, place on cutting board and, with sharp knife, cut rolls into slices 1/4-inch thick. Return to refrigerator. Makes about 60 pieces, 1 1/4 pounds.

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