Well, the time has come once more for our beloved production of 'A Christmas Carol' to be dragged from the filthy warehouse, lovingly cleaned and pieced together, and presented as a gift to the whole city. But, alas, this year, a few of the props needed special attention. The sweetmeats. Yes, the faithful sweetmeats that have served us, lo, these six long years, have seen their better days. It is time for a new platter of sweetmeats to grace our stage, and who better to confect these Victorian beauties than one of my favorite propsters, Sarah Heck?
Sarah is my co-crafter at the Rep, and she's a propster of the highest caliber. She specializes in fake taxidermy, leatherwork, and other crafts; she is a gentlewoman, a scholar, and a judge of fine whiskies. Also, I envy her for being tall. There, I said it.
But enough kissing up to Sarah, let's talk a little bit about sweetmeats. Sweetmeats, according to my favorite reference website, http://www.foodtimeline.org/ , are a British term for confectionary. Basically, what we call candies. Confections back in Dickens' time were mostly very sweet mish-mashes of honey, nuts, and preserved fruits. One of these types of sweetmeat is the famous sugar plum, which according to Saveur Magazine, look like this:
Sarah started these sugarplums by making round lumps of Celluclay colored with brown food coloring and allowed them to dry. Celluclay is nice because it is lightweight and paintable.
Next, she put pieces of rolled cork (the kind you buy to make cork board) into a blender. Once the cork was minced to a desirable size, she used spray paint to add some color to batches of the chopped cork. She dipped each of the Celluclay lumps into white glue, and rolled them in the cork schnibbles. Once the cork dried, she coated each sugarplum in white glue to seal and bind the cork even further.
Once all the glue had dried again, she dusted the top of each with spray-on snow, a sweet substitute for powdered sugar.
Once the 'sugar' was dried, there was nothing left but to pile them dramatically on a wooden platter, and garnish them with holly.