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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Christmas Drunken Plums

The Czech tradition of family-favorite bakery sweets is often taken to the nth degree. One student of mine told how her grandmother recently broke down in tears because she was only able to make 12 dozen cookies (five varieties) instead of her usual 18 dozen. While there is no competition between families, as I’ve been told, and few “cookie swapping” parties, the favorites among people are as wide as cookie imaginations.

The favorites include Wasp Nests (honey inside a cookie nest), Vanilla Rolls, Chocolate Cups, and an Austrian cookie sandwich that has a hole in it to show the sweet colorful jam inside. And then there is the Drunken Plum, which a student has been making for many years. He stuffed dried plums with almonds, then soaks them in rum for a week, after which he dips them in melted chocolate.

Since I don’t have an oven that’s useful for proper baking, the drunken plum sounded like a grand Christmas treat. This sweet includes some of my favorite tastes: chocolate, almonds, plum, and liquor. For a bit of variety, while I scanned the dried fruits section of the store (Czechs like dried fruit and nuts: there are bags of peanuts and pistachios the size of laundry bags!), I happened upon apricots, one of my other favorite fruits. So I grabbed a bag of those and have a couple dozen stuffed of each, soaking in the fridge, waiting for some melted chocolate next week.

Quick story from one student about a drunken plum episode: Michal went on Christmas vacation with some friends one year, and while belaying three friends as they made a short climb up a mountainside, he dipped into a can of said plums, once, twice, three times, and in ten minutes he realized the can was empty. He also found he was unable to climb the mountainside.

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