This week, Jews around the world will celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the “New Year” for the trees. Traditionally, we celebrate by eating fruits and nuts that are native to the land of Israel (grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates).

Growing up, they’d always give out carob in school, which they called buxer (Yiddish for carob). They were long black pods that were difficult to chew. If you made the effort, you’d be rewarded with a sweet taste. Most of the girls would just throw them away, but I’d always chew away at them. Nowadays, you can find many carob products on the market, including coffee, chocolate, cookies and butters.

When I thought about what to make for Tu B’Shevat, I wanted to use dates and figs, but also incorporate the chocolate flavor of carob. I decided to throw together some dried fruit truffles, or sugarplums. Sugarplums are balls that are made up of dried fruits, nuts and spices. Think of them as a kind of Larabar in the round!

You can make my traditional Tu B’Shevat recipe, or come up with your own combination. To make sugarplums, you’ll need:

  • Dried fruit (dates, figs, apricots, prunes, raisins, craisins, cherries, apples)
  • Nuts (pecans, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts)
  • Seeds, optional (sunflower, pepitas, anise, fennel, caraway)
  • Spices (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, mace, cloves, allspice, sea salt, cocoa, orange zest)
  • Sweetener, used to bind the mixture (honey, agave, maple syrup)
  • Butters, optional (almond, peanut, carob)
  • Extracts, optional (almond, vanilla, rum)
  • Alcohol, optional (rum, orange liqueur, chocolate liqueur)
  • Toppings (powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, coconut, cocoa, nuts, chocolate, sesame seeds)
  • For a healthy boost, add some oats or flax seeds.

Busy In Brooklyn’s Tu B’Shevat Truffles

  • 1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 10)
  • 1 cup dried figs (I used 5 Calimyrna and 10 Mission)
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tbsp carob powder*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar


Toast almonds in a 350° F oven until fragrant. Remove pits from dates and add to food processor, along with figs and almonds. Process until finely chopped. Add honey, carob powder, cinnamon and sea salt, and pulse several times until the mixture begins to clump together and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it is difficult to mix, add to a bowl and incorporate the spices by hand. Roll into bite-size balls and dip into turbinado sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to one month.

* Carob powder is available at health food stores. If you cannot find it, you can use cocoa powder instead.