I can cook, but I am not a gifted baker. Sure, I can turn out some gingerbread cake and thumbprint cookies, but the more elaborate holiday treats are too labor intensive for an impatient amateur baker such as myself. Do you know how hard it is to crush peppermint sticks for those peppermint ball cookies Martha Stewart makes? Exhausting. I would rather pay someone else to do it. Here are some of my favorite beautiful and tasty treats that will take the pressure off your less-than-stellar baking skills and get some gifts out of the way, too. Holidays, handled.
Tucked in a shopping center off of Lenox Road, this cute homestyle bakery is a fun place to sip on craft coffee paired with a chocolate and vanilla buttercream whoopie pie. Most of the baked goods are fun and portable (think cupcakes), and this trend extends to their Christmas goodies, which include Christmas brownies, iced holiday sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees and bow-bedecked wreaths, gingerbread men and ladies, holiday-themed cupcakes (chocolate peppermint, white chocolate eggnog, and gingerbread), even cinnamon rolls and eggnog scones for Christmas morning. The bakery also creates custom cakes, like this fondant masterpiece of a sleepy Christmas mouse lounging on a yule log. 2770 Lenox Road, Suite B4, 404-565-0938
Bernhard’s German Bakery
Christmas is big deal for this Marietta bakery, where the most popular items are traditional German Christmas cookies—vanilla or nougat crescents, spice cookies, checkered cookies, sugar cookies, and pecan sandies. Cookies are sold by the pound, in 4-ounce bags, and in assorted trays and boxes perfect for gifting. The bakery also offers other traditional items such as Sacher torte, strudels, and Stollen (a sweet German bread studded with dried fruit that is covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar), and homemade gingerbread decorated with both German and English Christmas greetings. This year, Bernhard’s will have a stall at the first ever ChristKindl Market at Atlantic Station, which is Monday thru Sat 11-10 and Sunday 1-8pm until Christmas Eve. 1592 Atlanta Road Southeast #110, Marietta, 770-218-1153
Rhodes Family Bakery
This long-standing Cheshire Bridge bakery (since 1930) with a Roswell outpost is the only place whose crumbly cheese straws are better than my own. Sweets vary from a legit Southern caramel cake (the kind with the creamy-looking icing) to oversized iced cookies shaped like snowmen and Christmas trees, and, my favorite, the holiday petit fours. The one (or two) bite treat bite square cakes are glazed in white icing and piped with designs such as Christmas wreaths. Fans of white cake will pounce on these addictive mini cakes, so buy more than you think you’ll need. 1783 Cheshire Bridge Road, 404-876-3783 and 880 Holcomb Bridge Road, Suite B120, Roswell, 770-649-1119.
Douceur de France
This super French bakery is so into Christmas they have an entire page on their website devoted to all of their over the top Christmas sweet treats, including a Croquembouche Christmas Tree, a tree-shaped tower of cream puffs glazed in green icing. Douceur de France is known for their many varieties of Buche de Noel (aka Yule Log), including Santa’s Helper (white chocolate mousse with a black currant coulis, a layer of ladyfingers, and a crunchy bottom made of sugar dough, lime zest, and white chocolate), Christmas Passion (milk chocolate mousse with a passion fruit cremeux), and Chocolate (chocolate mousse, chocolate sponge, and chocolate ganache). The bakery also serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can get a meal checked off your list in between holiday shopping whether you are in Marietta or Roswell. 277 South Marietta Parkway Southwest, Marietta, 770-425-5050 and 1173 Alpharetta Street, Roswell, 770-650-1173.
Stepping into the Buckhead location of this bakery, which has been open since 1929, is like walking into a winter wonderland where everything is made out of sugar, butter, and flour. The cases are filled with petit fours (one of their biggest sellers), sparkly holiday cookies, poured icing sugar cookies, and more. Tables are filled with mountains of Stollen, peppermint pound cake, rum cake, gingerbread kits, and full-on decorated gingerbread houses that you can gift. If you want a dessert to impress, the bakery offers classic Christmas confections such as Buche de Noel, cakes, and various pies to end your Christmas feast. 48 hours notice is recommended—items tend to run out as Christmas Eve nears. 61 Irby Ave Northwest, 404-237-0202; 6289 Roswell Road Northeast, 404-256-7934
Star Provisions makes some amazing Christmas cookies (learn how to make the shortbread here), but this is the place you go for over the top luxury like the stunning Buche de Noel (available in small and large sizes). They also sell iced gingerbread cookies, macarons, hummingbird cake, and a variety of pies. You can also order a full Christmas dinners, along with other prepared goods and gourmet ingredients to round out your visit. The restaurant says 24 hours is plenty of notice for most orders, but get your order in early if you want to source an entire meal—supplies are limited. 1198 Howell Mill Road Northwest, Suite 100, 404-365-0410
Alon’s Bakery and Market
Few places offer the breadth of holiday items like Alon’s. Whether you need fried sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) for Hannukah, stollen, panettone, or the full feast, Alon’s has it all. Bonus: You can order it all online. They also make an amazing assortment of holiday bread, and the Christmas cookies sold by the pound are so buttery and crumbly, you’ll start craving the sugar-encrusted goodness before you even finish eating your first. If you geek out about baking, be sure to check out this cool video on their website of how they make their panettone. 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, 678-397-1781