HOLD THE PHONE. It's October!
But yes - we are talking Christmas baking. Because it's good to be organised but also because Christmas baking = the stuff dreams are made of.
These cookies are named after the best annual celebration because, well, they remind me of Christmas. A rich cinnamony flavour, crumbly nuts and bright pops of deep cerise cranberries… Just gorgeous. I imagine they would be lovely with a cup of tea and Christmas carols sounding in the background. They would also make a perfect Christmas baking gift for friends or neighbours: picture it - stacked five-high, wrapped in cellophane, and tied with a tag wishing "Season's Greetings".
Now that we've accepted the fact that Christmas has begun, let's talk about nuts.
Who doesn't love nuts?! Whether in baking, processed into a butter, activated, roasted, salted, or simply enjoyed raw, nuts are delicious and salubrious (that basically means healthy, It's a great word. You should use it.)
It's National Nut Day in New Zealand on the 20th October, and I've been working with Allison's Pantry to create a delicious nutty treat to celebrate the occasion.
As you can imagine, my mind went crazy with the possibilities. I've never been one for open-ended challenges; I get excited by many ideas, and frequently find it difficult to stick with one and do it well. And nuts are so versatile, the possibilities seemed endless! Yet, I couldn't get one idea out of my head: decadent nuts, processed, bound with an egg, and baked in butter and rich blackstrap molasses with a hint of cinnamon.
So I went for it. And the result was beautiful: melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly, decadent, Christmas-y Fruit and Nut Cookies.
Want the recipe?
I bet you do - but first, some information on why these cookies are not only delicious, but salubrious.
Why are we nuts about nuts?
Simply put - nuts are nutrient-dense. High in healthy fats, fibre, protein and the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive. Nuts provide vitamins and minerals that nourish your body so that you can be an energetic, vital, beautiful you. High fat content nourishes and satiates, while high levels of protein keep you satisfied for longer. Instant energy is supplied, and less likely to be stored as fat.
"Butter is Better"
If you aren't lactose-intolerant, butter is another miracle food. Butter is rich in vitamins, minerals, and short- and medium-chain-fatty-acids.
Dr Mercola (an expert on natural health) informs us that these fatty acids "support immune function, boost metabolism and have anti-microbial properties; that is, they fight against pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract." Butter provides the perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Arachidonic acid in butter is "important for brain function, skin health and prostaglandin balance."
To find out more about the health benefits of butter, read more here.
I've been a little obsessed with this earthy, mineral-rich, naturally-sweet syrup recently. The flavour is unique and adds a lovely earthiness to baking. For those of you who don't know, molasses is what's left after sugar cane is processed to produce refined sugar - the kind you find in the baking aisles of the supermarket. Molasses has long been sold and used as live-stock feed, but it is making a bit of a come-back in the modern, whole food diet. And here's why: It's...
- Rich in iron. In fact, my grandmother fed it to her children by the tablespoon every day as a supplement.
- Has a moderate glycemic load, and therefore doesn't spike blood-sugar levels.
- High in magnesium and calcium. These two minerals go hand in hand. Calcium is only bio-available if enough magnesium is present. Blackstrap molasses provides both, therefore enabling the absorption of calcium and supporting healthy bones.
- High in Copper, supporting hair growth and repair.
- A natural laxative; keeping things regular.
- High in other minerals, such as manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, and selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that is lacking in New Zealand soil. This means that many of us do not get adequate amounts of selenium from our vegetables.
Molasses also lends a gorgeous, earthy flavour to cooking and baking. So get using it, yo'! You won't be disappointed. You can read more about its uses and health benefits here.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for these nutty delights.
Christmas-y Fruit and Nut Cookies
GF / Makes about 16
1C raw macadamias
1C raw pecans
1C raw walnuts
1/2C sulphite-free cranberries
50g organic butter
1T blackstrap molasses
1T honey or maple syrup (optional - I prefer without, but my family are used to low sweetener baked goods)
1 free range egg, size 7
1/4C buckwheat flour
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees fanbake and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a food processor, combine all three nuts, pulsing until a bulky crumb is achieved.
3. In a small pot over a low heat, melt the butter. Add the molasses (and honey, if using) and cinnamon and whisk to combine. Remove from the heat and add to the food processor.
4. Crack in the egg and add the 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour to the food processor.
5. Pulse until just combined.
6. Add the cranberries and pulse again until just combined. (If over-processed, the cranberries will break up too much. We want them to stay nice and plump.)
7. Using damp hands, form golf ball-sized spheres of cookie mixture. Squeeze firmly so that the spheres are nice and compact. Some oil may squeeze out, but that is okay. There should be approximately eight cookies on each tray.
8. Press firmly down on each cookie with clean, damp hands so that each cookie is about a centimetre thick. Due to the crumbly mixture you may need to mould the cookies back into shape.
9. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned and firm.
10. Remove cookies from the tray immediately and place on a rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container. These cookies will last all week, if given the chance, or make a lovely gift.