Ah, the holidays. The tree is trimmed, the presents are bought, and you’ve spent days joyously baking with your kids while listening to Bing Crosby. Right. In reality, Home Depot sells trees right up until the last second, Amazon Prime can get it to you in two days up to Christmas Eve, and there’s absolutely no reason you can’t listen to the Bing Crosby Christmas CD en route to pick up your Christmas cookies from one of Atlanta’s best bakeries. So go ahead and fake it, already. We won’t tell a soul. Pick up these traditional holiday cookies—and don’t forget to hide the box.
With their festive shapes, delicate dusting of confectioners sugar, and glossy jelly filling, you can whip these bad boys out when your dinner companions end up on your couch after you’ve said farewell to the sitter. Be sure to get the cookies that aren’t too intricately shaped, and you can totally pull these off as your own.
Alon’s Bakery & Market, 1394 North Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, Georgia, 404-872-6000
Our grandmas made these, so technically, we could, too. All we’d need would be some flour, pecans, sugar, butter, vanilla, and oh, yeah, time. Leave the ingredients in the pantry and pick these messy delights up on your next cookie run. They keep well in the fridge, and just might save you when your kids want to decorate cookies. Stack three together, add pretzel arms and a Rolo for a hat, and viola! You’ve got “homemade” snowmen!
Henri’s Bakery, 61 Irby Avenue NW, Atlanta, Georgia, 404-237-0202
Let’s be honest. How many perfect gingerbread men have you ever really made? Whether it’s the butter versus shortbread debate, or the racks-too-close-to-the-coil issue, there are a myriad of reasons why a gingerbread man goes in looking sprightly, and comes out just a blurry, blunted, burned around the edges mess. Some would even compare the making of a gingerbread man to the effects of marriage, but no one we know. The bottom line? Go buy some perfectly cooked gingerbread men. Break a few legs off if you’re really going for authenticity, and turn them over to your kids to decorate. And maybe give your husband a hug in the extra time you’ve just created.
German Cafe and Bakery, 2914 White Boulevard, Decatur, Georgia 30033, 404-508-5900
Another great option to keep on hand for those bouts of guilt you’ll have for not actually sifting flour with the kiddos, thumbprint cookies can be dressed-up with minimum effort by crushing M&Ms, nuts, or sprinkles and letting your kids roll them around in the topping of their choice. Or not. They’re pretty darn great just as they are.
The Highland Bakery, 655 Highland Avenue NE, #10, Atlanta, Georgia 30312, 404-586-0772
Seven Layer Bars
Remember how you couldn’t wait for the Eagle Brand condensed milk to stop bubbling over the butter graham cracker crust and finally settle down over those chocolate chips and perfectly toasted pecans so you could scarf down a mouthful? Easily the best 1,000 calorie holiday indulgence known to man. This year, instead of filling your grocery cart with the ingredients it takes to make a batch of these bliss-on-the-tongues, why not just buy a sheet of these, cut them into inch squares, and then padlock the tupperware where you store them?
Canvas Cafe and Bakery, 724 Cherokee St Marietta, GA 30060, 678-213-2268
Alright. We live in Atlanta, the capital of the New South. There’s no doubt that everyone reading this right now is making that “Well, I’d never…” face as you contemplate cheating on your cheese straw recipe. We’re not suggesting you toss that heirloom out with the trash; rather, we’re just saying there’s no time like the holidays to expand your horizons. Pick up a dozen or so of these savory saviors to try with people whose opinion you don’t really worry too much about. If it goes well, go back for more. They’ll look just dandy in your vintage tins with a little tissue paper nest, just like Mama’s. You can always make your own when January rolls around, and they’ll love you just the same.
Rhodes Family Bakery, 1783 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30075, 404-876-3783
Find yourself out and about but nowhere near any of the aforementioned bakeries? No worries. Try Joli Kobe (5600 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342, 404-843-3257), Sweet Auburn Bakery (209 Edgewood Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30303 678-927-9401), or Metrotainment Bakery (1119 Logan Circle NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404-873-6307). All are crowd-pleasers, sure to have just the right assortment of holiday sweets to satisfy your crew.
How will you cut corners this Christmas? If you are looking to shop out some duties this season, click here for our guide to hired holiday help.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr, The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, and the author.
Click here to see other local events and activities this holiday season.