Holiday Food and Drink

Houston Holiday Desserts

The most wonderful time of the year is here.
The most wonderful time of the year is here. Photo by Elizabeth Harrison Cooper

While some of us are busy making homemade divinity and dozens of pecan sandies, rugelach or cookie cutter Christmas trees, others are busy scanning the internet for bakeries and restaurants that can alleviate some of the holiday stress by providing sweet treats for parties, family dinners and get-togethers with friends. There are also dining establishments that have created special desserts for their guests in keeping with the the season. We have found a dozen or so spots around town that can provide overwhelmed Houstonians with  yummy desserts to grace the holiday table, serve as a special gift or give a few moments of hedonistic pleasure as you tuck in to a decadent treat all for yourself, calories be damned.

click to enlarge Here's some pie in your eye. - PHOTO BY KIRSTEN GILLIAM
Here's some pie in your eye.
Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

The Butcher Shop at B & B Butchers and Restaurant

1814 Washington

There's more than meat available at this carnivore's paradise. For the holidays, The Butcher Shop has three flavors of pies for $45 each. Choose (if you can) between Pecan, Apple Crisp and Key Lime. While you're ordering, you might want to consider letting B & B Butchers take the entire load off of your holiday entertaining by ordering its Roasted Prime Rib, Glazed Ham, Pork Crown Roast or Beef Wellington. Please give 48 hour notice for orders. And check out gifts in the shop like Chef Tommy's Bacon Kit ($22) and a variety of carving sets and cutting boards for your foodie friends.

click to enlarge Impress your guests with Brennan's Creole Bread Pudding. - PHOTO BY DEBORA SMAIL
Impress your guests with Brennan's Creole Bread Pudding.
Photo by Debora Smail

3300 Smith

This long time Houston institution is known for its New Orleans-inspired Southern fare and elegant old school charm. Its frequent guests have enjoyed its famous pralines for years and it's time to share that pleasure with others. Brennan's is offering an elegantly boxed dozen of its pralines for $24.99 to give as a gift or to have shipped to loved ones in less lucky states. Shipping rates are listed on its website.

Fans of its pies can also order a 9" Lemon Meringue ($45) or an 8" Pecan Pie ($30) with 72-hour notice. There's also the famous Creole Bread Pudding. A half pan is $50.
click to enlarge Give a box of happiness from Crave. - PHOTO BY ELIZABETH HARRISON COOPER
Give a box of happiness from Crave.
Photo by Elizabeth Harrison Cooper

Crave Cupcakes
5600 Kirby
2501 research Forest
1151-06 Uptown Park Boulevard

This modern bakery has rolled out some seasonal flavors for its yummy cupcakes like eggnog, gingerbread, spiked velvet and holiday confetti. There are also plenty of holiday character cookies and gingerbread people to make your family ooh and aah. Pick up a goodie box ($12) of four mini cupcakes or five mini brownies for a colleague or a work buddy. There are also larger boxes like the Santa's Favorites ($35) and Home for the Holidays ($50) for groups. Christmas and Hanukkah-themed cupcakes are available, too. Remember your pooch and pick up a dozen of the all natural doggie treats for its stocking.

Crave also has a gluten-free, sugar-free and low carb cupcake called The 007. No one should be without cupcakes.

The Dandelion Cafe
5405 Bellaire

Owner Sarah Lieberman is creating beautiful cookies with holiday themes like Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's. The sugar cookies are $30 per dozen or $16 for a half dozen and should be ordered four days ahead. Or you can try your luck and walk in for an individual cookie for $2.75.

click to enlarge The Gateau Royale is tres formidable at Emmaline. - PHOTO BY BECCA WRIGHT
The Gateau Royale is tres formidable at Emmaline.
Photo by Becca Wright

3210 Dallas

Make your significant other feel like a king or a queen when you surprise him or her with this decadent dessert after a tasty meal at Emmaline. The Gateau Royale ($12) is fit for royalty with its hazelnut cake covered in a mirror-glazed Valrhona chocolate ganache atop a pistachio crumble, garnished with white and milk chocolate mousses.

click to enlarge Yule love Fluff Bake Bar's Stump de Noel. - PHOTO BY REBECCA MASSON
Yule love Fluff Bake Bar's Stump de Noel.
Photo by Rebecca Masson
Fluff Bake Bar
314 Gray

Rebecca Masson, aka The Sugar Fairy, is offering some of her pies and cookies for those who need a break from the stove or just want to treat guests to sweets made by one of Houston's best known bakers. There are several pies from which to choose: the Dutch Apple, Chocolate Cream and the Chocolate Pecan Bourbon. Each pie is $30 and there are add ons like a pint of whipped cream ($7.50) or a pint of caramel ($10). Or both. We're not judging.

There are party trays available in small (8-10) medium (20) and large (30) and include popular favorites like fluffernutter, oreo, couch potato, unicorn bait and moon pies. No substitutions.

There's also the Lemon Tart ($28), Pistachio Pound Cake ($28) and the Stump de Noel ($48). The Stump is Masson's version of the traditional French buche de noel, or yule log. It is a 6 x 6 "  vertical stump made with its Veruca Salt cake which is devil's food cake rolled with salted caramel buttercream and caramel crunchy pearls. It's topped with meringue mushrooms and holly leaves.

Orders will be available for pick up at the bakery December 23 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and December 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Give two days notice and verify ahead of time which day you wish to retrieve your goodies. Call the shop directly if you need a rush order and you might get lucky.

Galiana's Bakery and Cafe
24110 U.S. 290

This bakery is offering four desserts from the Herrera family's own recipes. There's Pumpkin Pie ($25), Pumpkin Cheesecake ($45), Pecan Pie ($25) and the Pumpkin Roulade ($28). The desserts are available with 12 hour notice and can be picked up at the store during opening hours.

click to enlarge Hugo's apple tart is bonita. - PHOTO BY JACKIE LARA
Hugo's apple tart is bonita.
Photo by Jackie Lara
1600 Westheimer

Many Houstonians are already placing their orders for Hugo Ortega's tamales by the dozen ($24 for pork, chicken, fish or mushroom). Those with smarts will know to add in one of the delicious desserts. There's the Chocolate Tres Leches Cake ($45), Pumpkin and Cajeta Pie ($30) or for something very unique, try the Tomatillo Marmalade Cheesecake ($30). Orders must be made by December 22 for a December 24 pick up at a predetermined time.

Or if you are dining in at Hugo's, try the Tarta de Manazana ($10), an apple tart with pecans and dulche de leche. There's also the Capirotada ($9), Hugo's Mexican version of bread pudding.

Kata Robata
3600 Kirby

Diners love Chef Hori's fresh sushi, sashimi and modern Japanese cuisine. However, don't skip dessert. For the holidays, the restaurant has a Japanese Pumpkin Cheesecake with pumpkin cream and a chocolate cookie crumble. There are also flavorful treats like the Coconut Tres Leches ($8) and the Green Tea Souffle Cheesecake ($8) for those who aren't Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eaters.

click to enlarge As with most of K&Z's food, the Pumpkin Cheesecake is substantial. - PHOTO BY ZIGGY GRUBER
As with most of K&Z's food, the Pumpkin Cheesecake is substantial.
Photo by Ziggy Gruber

Kenny and Ziggy's
5172 Buffalo Speedway
2327 Post Oak

For those who are pumpkin eaters, K&Z's has introduced a whole pumpkin cheesecake ($35) for the holidays to go along with the numerous cakes and pies that it already sells. It is available by the slice as well. Other cheesecake flavors include coconut, double chocolate, turtle (the best IMO), and plain.

The delicatessen/restaurant is also selling a complete holiday meal for 10-12 people ($275) with turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry-pineapple relish, two sides and an apple pie. There's also a variety of trays, including a Hanukkah Tray, a Dessert Tray and a Fancy Dessert Tray.

click to enlarge Mastranto's goes wild with the pumpkin. - PHOTO BY MARI CHACON
Mastranto's goes wild with the pumpkin.
Photo by Mari Chacon

927 Studewood

This cozy neighborhood cafe in the Heights is known for its homemade pasta coming out of its Dough Lab and the friendly Venezuelan couple who own it, Mari and Xavier Godoy. We are nearing winter, so say au revoir to autumn with this special dessert called "Fall in a Plate". It's a trio of pumpkin praline pie, pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin cake served with a caramel reduction, ricotta mascarpone and kissed with cinnamon. That's a perfect pumpkin sampling for $12.

Guests can also take home some pastries or kolaches from the Dough Lab to have on hand for out-of-town visitors.

click to enlarge Life is like a box of cookies: meant to be enjoyed. - PHOTO BY LISA GOCHMAN
Life is like a box of cookies: meant to be enjoyed.
Photo by Lisa Gochman

The Roastery
1701 Alabama
5106 Bissonet
5895 San Felipe
3663 Washington

The coffeehouse and restaurant is offering a Holiday Cookie Gift Box ($24) with a dozen beautiful and scrumptious cookies created by pastry chef Sarah Schnitzer. A peek inside shows tempting flavors like the homemade peppermint Oreo, pecan pie sugar cookie and gingerbread krinkle. There is also a variety of shortbreads including chocolate cherry, spiced with rum filling, eggnog, caramel apple and coffee with buttercream. There's also a mint cookie with chocolate filling.

It's a great gift to pick up for teachers, neighbors that you really like and hosts that give the best parties but have more booze on hand than treats. You can also take a box or two to a cookie exchange if you're a cheater.

click to enlarge What's not to love about cheesecake flavored with wine? - PHOTO BY KATHY TRAN
What's not to love about cheesecake flavored with wine?
Photo by Kathy Tran

Sixty Vines
2540 University Boulevard

This wine-centric restaurant recently opened its first Houston location in October. It has two other locations in Plano and Dallas. In keeping with its wine theme, the restaurant has a special Rose Cheesecake ($55) made with Vine Huggers Rose and a graham cracker crust. It's pink.

click to enlarge Third Coast 's butterscotch pot de creme  is a jar of joy. - PHOTO BY PAULA MURPHY
Third Coast 's butterscotch pot de creme is a jar of joy.
Photo by Paula Murphy

Third Coast
6550 Bertner

This elegant restaurant is located at the top of the JP McGovern Commons in the Medical Center. Enjoy the view and a butterscotch pot de creme ($8) with creme fraiche, nutmeg and Maldon salt. Or try one of its other desserts such as a seasonal creme brulee or the Bourbon Pecan Tart.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY KEVIN MARPLE
Photo by Kevin Marple

Whiskey Cake
23139 Grand Circle Boulevard
18840 Gulf Freeway
12575 Southwest Freeway

Whiskey Cake is offering its, um, Whiskey Cake for the holidays by the slice or as a 9 x 11 sheet cake with bourbon anglaise, toffee sauce, spiced pecans and whipped cream. A whole cake costs $59 and serves 12 to 16. 
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.