Yesterday was our annual Tree Trimming Party. This is a tradition that my husband started when he was back in university where you invite you friends and family to your house and ask them not to bring anything but themselves and an ornament for the tree that represents themselves or their family. We of course provide all food and booze for the party. When we were in university, we were always a hit at Christmas…I am well aware why Now that we are “grown-ups” we know that people come because they like us, not for the booze.
I can truly say that this year was one of the best parties. This was Little Q’s first Tree Trimming party where he could help decorate the tree. He was loving all the kids that were there and playing with them. He still needs to grasp the concept of the Christmas balls. He literally went over to the tree, ripped a handful of balls off the tree and started whipping them down the hallway! He’ll get it soon enough, right?
I absolutely love this tradition and I am so grateful that my husband introduced it to me. What I love most about it is when people get creative with making their decorations from scratch. One year, our friend made a beautiful ornament from a ball of aluminum foil, pins, beads, cut outs from a glossy magazine and a ribbon – to this day I love hanging that ornament and think of her each time. This year’s favourite for me were the two silver stars made from twigs of the plum-tree in our friends’ backyard – their children helped make the ornaments and hung them on the tree. We keep a record of each ornament and who brought it to the party that year on the outside of the box when we pack it away. That way, we remember old and new friends and the honour it is to have them in our lives – regardless of whether we still see them or not.
I served the ’12 Days of Naughty made Nice’ at the party and everything seemed to be a hit! This recipe was especially well received. Out of the 12 days, this has to be the most expensive – which for me as a mom always on a food budget, is a big deal. However, I can justify it when I know the quality of the food is good, it’s a special treat and there is not a whole lot of crap in it – so my guests can feel guilt free about eating something that tastes like luxury. It was also one of the “show stoppers”…along with another recipe that will be posted very soon This concept came to me one day when I was thinking of ways to make a tart (a butter tart actually) and saw on Martha Stewart’s website that cranberry tarts are often served at this time of year. I was trying to find a way to make the base so that it wasn’t full of a pastry (often very difficult to make gluten-free) and remembered that I had some macadamia nuts left over in the fridge. Then BOOM! I thought about the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies my mother-in-law makes at Christmas that have cranberries in them and the concept was born…macadamia nut crust, lined with homemade white chocolate topped with cranberries. So pretty and so good. I hope you like them!
- 2 cups of dates, pitted & soaked for 15mins in some water
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- ½ cup raw almonds
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts
- 1 tbsp hemp hearts
- ½ cup brown rice flour
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp pure vanilla
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2½ cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup water
- Juice and zest from half an orange
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 oz raw cacao butter*, shredded
- 1 tsp maple syrup or honey
- *1/4 cup white chocolate shredded can be substituted if unable to find cacao butter. If choosing this option then eliminate the teaspoon of maple syrup.
- While dates are soaking, place walnuts, almonds & macadamia nuts in food processor and make into flour like texture. Place in bowl.
- Add hemp hearts, brown rice flour, coconut oil, xanthan gum, vanilla & sea salt.
- Process dates into a paste-like texture. Add to nut mixture. Mix well together.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large muffin tins lined with coconut oil take about 2 inches of dough and press into pan making individual tarts. Bake in oven for 10 - 15mins until tart crust has browned slightly. Set aside to cool.
- Place cranberries, water, orange juice & zest and maple syrup in saucepan over medium heat.
- Allow the cranberries to pop and the mixture to reduce a bit, stirring to make sure the mixture does not get stuck to pan. Once it looks more jam-like, remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on low heat, mix together cacao butter & maple syrup. With a spoon, take about 1 tsp of the homemade white chocolate mixture and gently line the macadamia nut crusts. Most of the white chocolate will fall to the bottom and that's ok! Let chocolate cool in fridge for about 15mins.
- Place a large tablespoon of the cooled cranberry mixture into crusts. Cover and remove from tins when ready to serve. Enjoy the compliments!