Christmas is such a magical time of year and the perfect opportunity to indulge in festive feasting with family and friends, entertaining and enjoying the very best seasonal food and drink.

Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen over the festive period. I think it’s always best to prepare and plan for the big day as much as possible, so that you can spend more quality time with family and friends.

Christmas Day celebrations in my family starts with a glass of Bucks Fizz and some extra special canapes, often with the help of my six year-old nephew. Great quality Scottish smoked salmon and cheese gougéres are just a couple of our family favourites to tuck into on Christmas Day. Canapes can be quite time consuming to make, so I look for recipes that I can prepare the day before and offer classic flavour combinations that will put a smile on everyone’s faces.

For this recipe, I wanted to share a really simple canape that’s easy to prepare, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the festivities. Blue cheese and quince is a flavour that I love and usually enjoy as part of a cheese board. The addition of crispy bacon and sweet candied walnuts adds extra richness and texture, making it a perfect canape for Christmas Day.

This year at Gleneagles, we’ve created a very special afternoon tea to help guests get into the festive spirit. Taking inspiration from Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet, Nutcracker Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy, guests can experience a gastronomic journey to the enchanted Land of Sweets with mouth-watering cakes, sweet treats and savouries. After a lot of careful planning, research, testing and tweaking, we unveiled the new afternoon tea to our guests in The Gleneagles Ballroom with a very special performance of The Nutcracker by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Highlights of our Nutcracker Afternoon Tea include festive cranberry orange and white chocolate scones, warming apple and cinnamon crumble scones, decadent Valrhona chocolate and salted caramel tart with mandarin; comforting coconut and maraschino cherry cake; and Eggnog macaroons, finished with a golden pirouetting ballet dancer. Savoury treats on the Nutcracker Afternoon Tea menu also include this Cambozola cheese and quince tart with bacon and candied walnuts. If you’re making this canape at home, you could replace the Cambozola with a creamy Scottish blue cheese instead.

The Nutcracker-themed Afternoon Tea is being served in our beautiful Glendevon Room, where guests can relax and unwind in an oasis of tranquillity. Since 1924, Gleneagles has enjoyed the enviable reputation of being the best place in Scotland to come for that special, memorable occasion, and especially for the experience of Scotland’s finest Afternoon Tea.

Gleneagles’ Nutcracker Afternoon Tea is available from £45 per person until 22nd December. To make a reservation and for further information about other festive events at Gleneagles, visit or call 01764 662231.

Makes 6


For the Cambozola tart:

200g Cambozola cheese, roughly crumbled

50g quince jelly, diced

6 rashers streaky bacon

5cm savoury tart cases or bread croutons a similar size to the tart lightly toasted

50g candied walnuts

Watercress, to garnish

For the candied walnuts:

25g caster sugar

25g water

50g walnuts

350g Scottish rapeseed oil


1. To start, preheat the oven to 120°C. Lay the streaky bacon rashers out on a tray and cook until golden and crispy. Dry on some paper towel, then chop up into a fine crumb.

2. Next, prepare your candied walnuts. Place the water, sugar and walnuts into a thick bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 seconds then drain off the liquid. Heat the rapeseed oil in a separate pan and gently place half of the walnuts in and fry until crisp. Remove the buts from the pan and drain on paper towel, being careful of the hot oil. Repeat with the second half of the walnuts.

3. Allow to cool, your walnuts can last for up to two weeks in a tightly sealed container.

4. To assemble, crumble your Cambozola into your tart shells or on top of your crouton then gently place the quince jelly on top. Sprinkle over the bacon dust and crumble on the candied walnuts and finish with the watercress.

5. Serve with a glass of mulled wine or bucks fizz.