Homemade holiday food gifts tell friends how much you care

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving for family passed by way too quickly, and I seemed to be on the road for most of it. But now it is time to turn our thoughts to Christmas. While many people start with their decorating plans I like to start with my food gift plans. A homemade food gift is a wonderful gift to give to your friends. It tells them that you took the time out of your busy schedule to do something for them, and here, in South nothing says “I care about you” better than food.

These little tarts use my favorite nut, the macadamia. They are more expensive than pecans or walnuts but since they are chopped in this recipe you can use the other nuts too. Place a half-dozen of these on a pretty Christmas plate, cover with plastic wrap and tie it up with a pretty bow, and I promise your family and friends will love them.

Macadamia Tarts

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1/ 2 cup butter, room temp

3-ounce package cream cheese, room temp

1 cup plain flour

1/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1 1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

Blend together the 1/2 cup butter and the cream cheese. Mix in the flour and salt to form a soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Very lightly spray your mini-muffin tins, you will need to have room for 24 tarts.

Remove dough from refrigerator and form into 24 balls. Place each one in a mini-muffin cup and with flour-dusted fingers, press into tart shapes. Blend together the remaining ingredients except for the chocolate. Fill each tart shell evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool, remove from the pan and drizzle the chocolate over each one.

For years I made the traditional spiced tea mix that made the holiday gift rounds. Then I came across this wonderful concoction. I mix it all in a large bowl, portion it into zip top sandwich bags and put it in a Christmas coffee cup. Add a pretty bow and you are in business.

Christmas Cappuccino Mix

2 1/2 cups instant chocolate drink mix

8 cups powdered milk

2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup instant coffee

8 ounces French vanilla flavored non-dairy creamer

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and then store in an airtight container. Provide the following steps with your gift. Directions — 1/4 to 1/3 cup cappuccino mix and 6 to 8 ounces of hot water.

Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.