Where to Get Your Holiday Sugar Fix

Keep the season merry and bright with a visit to these local bakeries and chocolatiers.

‘Tis the season when eating dessert on a regular basis becomes not only acceptable, but encouraged. If baking isn’t your thing or you just don’t have the time, these local sweet shops are whipping up an array of goodies that are sure to please, whether it’s pies, cookies, cakes or bonbons you seek. You’ll even find gluten-free and vegan options.

Village Sweet Christmas cookies (Facebook photo)

Village Sweet

Location: 5872 Washington Blvd. (Westover)

Dawn Hart’s colorful holiday cookies are picture-perfect, although for those who prefer do to their own cookie decorating—a fun and festive activity with the kids—the Westover bakery also sells “naked” sugar cookies (nut-free, no less) to take home. While you’re at it, grab some goodies for Christmas morning. You’ll find scones in varieties such as blueberry-lemon, dark chocolate-orange, toasted coconut-almond and banana-oatmeal-chocolate chip, plus quiche options for both vegetarians and carnivores. And a “breakfast bread” made with zucchini, carrots, currants and walnuts.

Livin’ the Pie Life coconut cake (Facebook photo)

Livin’ The Pie Life

Location: 2166 N. Glebe Rd, Arlington

The pies at this cozy shop near the intersection of Glebe Road and Lee Highway will give Grandma’s traditional recipes some stiff competition, with flavors like chocolate-peppermint mousse, apple-caramel-crumb, salted-caramel chess and brown-butter-coconut. But pie isn’t the only thing on the menu. Alternately, try the bakery’s massive holiday coconut cake, or place an order for a batch of its highly-acclaimed chocolate chip cookies. You’ll find savory selections, too, including vegetarian mincemeat pies and three different kinds of quiche—perfect for throwing in the oven to quickly satisfy hungry house guests.

Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe (Facebook photo)

Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe

Location: 2150 N. Culpeper St., Arlington

If you’re craving some authentic European holiday treats but would prefer to avoid international shipping fees, head here. Named for the town of Heidelberg, Germany where co-owner and baker Wolfgang Büchler grew up, the shop has been bringing traditional European fare to Arlingtonians since 1975. You’ll find treats like authentic Dresdner Stollen bread with rum-soaked raisins and toasted almonds, pfeffernusse (traditional German spice cookies), and biberle (honey-gingerbread cookies filled with marzipan), not to mention marzipan petit fours that look like they belong on a Pinterest board. Heidelberg’s pretty glass cases also have an impressive variety of sweet and savory pastries to complement your holiday brunch, and enough cookie choices to please even the pickiest of Santa Clauses.

Milk Bar peppermint cookies (courtesy photo)

Milk Bar

Location: Tysons Corner Center, Level 1, next to Nordstrom

James Beard Award-winning baker Christina Tosi’s cult-status Milk Bar has a pop-up shop at Tysons Corner Center through Jan. 8, selling faves such as crack pie (toasted oat crust with a gooey butter filling), peppermint-cornflake-marshmallow cookies and birthday-cake truffles, plus tins, totes, cookbooks and other branded gear.

Artisan Confections (Facebook photo)

Artisan Confections

Locations: 1025 N. Fillmore St. (Clarendon) and 2910 District Ave. (Mosaic District)

Need a gift for the sophisticated chocoholic in your life? Jason Andelman‘s small-batch confections, made with Valhrona chocolate from France (and, in some cases, booze), are works of art, and they taste as good as they look. This season’s bonbon flavors include gingerbread, chestnut-maple, honey-whiskey (made with Jack Daniels) and Linzertorte (hazelnut praline, raspberry, cinnamon, and Chambord). Other perennial favorites: bittersweet chocolate-raspberry, ancho-chile, chai tea, salted-butter-caramel, and lemongrass.

Bakeshop blueberry crumb cake (Facebook photo)

Bakeshop

Location: 1025 N. Fillmore St. (Clarendon)

If you’ll be hosting vegans at your next party, Bakeshop has plenty of options sans animal products, including cakes and cupcakes in flavors like red velvet, pumpkin, and devil’s food, and cookies ranging from classic chocolate chip to oatmeal and gingersnap cream pie. This holiday season, the shop is also offering vegan takes on classics such as pumpkin pie and pumpkin loaf. Meanwhile, in the non-vegan category: gingerbread loaf, cranberry-nut bread and blueberry-crumb cake. And if you’re really feeling the holiday spirit, place an order for one of the shop’s signature whipped cream cakes—available in flavors like candy cane, red velvet and mint chocolate.

Pastries by Randolph chocolate yule log (Facebook photo)

Pastries by Randolph

Location: 4500 Lee Highway (Lee Heights Shops)

This Arlington pastry shop has been a local go-to for more than 25 years. Yule logs can be customized with chocolate or vanilla cake and raspberry, cappuccino, vanilla or chocolate frosting, and they come decorated with royal icing mushrooms and vibrant poinsettias. The result is a festive treat that doubles as a table decoration. Gingerbread houses can be custom ordered with all of the classic candy ornaments, and the cookie and French pastry platters are beautifully arranged. Specialty cookies this time of year include almond macaroons with cherries, pfeffernuse, spekulatius, ginger snaps and chocolate lace cookies.

Sweetbites cupcakes (Facebook photo)

Sweetbites Cafe & Bakery

Location: 6845 Elm Street, McLean

Some folks in your household are die-hard chocolate-lovers while others skew more toward caramel or fruit?  If so, why not make everyone happy by initiating a Christmas cupcake tradition? Sandra Panetta started out selling her single-serving cakes out of a mobile truck in 2010, and then opened a storefront in McLean in 2014. Her cupcake menu includes holiday specials (think rum-and-eggnog and peppermint-candy cane) as well as signature and seasonal flavors like pumpkin-chai, salted caramel, and classic red velvet. If you want a holiday cookie platter and you’re short on time, you can pick and choose from options such as ginger-chocolate, seasonal sable, triple chocolate and lemon drop.

Cranberry Linzer pie at The Happy Tart (Facebook photo)

The Happy Tart

Locations: 410 S. Maple Ave. (Falls Church City) and 2307 Mount Vernon Ave. (Del Ray)

This friendly shop in The Little City proves that desserts don’t need gluten to be absolutely delectable. Fans of the classics can savor owner Emma Cech’s wheatless take on buttery apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, along with flavors like chocolate-pecan, pumpkin-praline, cranberry Linzer and sour-cream-apple. Need a gift for the sweet tooth in your life? Try one of the shop’s macaron gift boxes. The pretty little sweets come filled with your choice of buttercream, chocolate or jam. The bakery also sells gluten-free gingerbread house kits.

Chocolate-dipped strawberries at Cocoa Vienna (Facebook photo)

Cocoa Vienna

Location: 120 Church St., Vienna
Decadence is a key ingredient at this Vienna confectioner, where you’ll find hand dipped ganache and truffles in flavors such as mint truffle, red velvet, marzipan and sea-salt caramel, as well as candied fruits like pineapple, orange peel, and cherries dipped in semi-sweet or dark chocolate. Fresh handmade fudge and English toffee make for an easy gift, and the shop can customize novelty chocolates to fit any themed celebration.

Categories: Food & Drink