Above: The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta serves up holiday treats at special events in December. Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Atlanta.
This year, Christmas and Hanukkah arrive during the same week. From Atlanta to Alpharetta and Decatur to Doraville, grandparents are mulling over ways to spend memorable holiday time with their families.
Some of today’s busiest grandparents may get creative in their kitchens, while others will search for an exceptional bakery. Perhaps you’ve decided to bake with the kids as a bonding activity. If the grandchildren are too young, or you prefer to save your kitchen floor and cabinets from accidental spills of finger-licking icing and chewy chocolate, Atlanta has other delectable options for holiday treats.
Alon’s Bakery & Market
Alon’s owner and Executive Chef, Alon Balshan, offers what feels like a European market as soon as you walk in the door. In addition to a made-from-scratch selection of baked breads, European-style cakes and handmade pastries, there’s an array of everything from soup to nuts—and, of course, cookies.
The kids will thank you for introducing them to Alon’s Yule log. This special pastry can fit on a Hanukkah buffet, a Christmas table or serve as a special treat for Kwanza.
Once you taste the luscious passionfruit chocolate mousse with a mango cream (or creameux, in French) center, the almond cake and buttery shortbread, you may relinquish homemade cookies forever. The log should arrive about the time mistletoe gets hung.
Alon’s first 1,300-square-foot bakery opened in 1992 in the Virginia Highland area. Today, a second location can be found on Ashford-Dunwoody Road, across from Perimeter Mall. The Dunwoody store has about 11,000 square feet to provide treats for every holiday taste imaginable.
- Locations: 1394 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta 30306, 404-872-6000
- 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta 30346, 678-397-1781
- More info: alons.com
Douceur de France
Perhaps you’d rather bring a special treat home. In that case, a multitude of bakeries will be pleased to help you out. For example, Douceur de France (Sweets of France) has two metro locations, one in Marietta and the other in Roswell. Each offers French specialties galore.
The owner, Luc Beaudet, says his mother was his inspiration. His formal training took place in France, where he learned the art of patisserie. Later, he studied with an organization dedicated to touring France and other European countries while learning specialized pastry techniques.
Beaudet grew up in Le Retail, a small village in western France. Fortunately for the northern Atlanta suburban population, he began selling his famous pastries in Marietta about 20 years ago. The Roswell location opened in 1999.
- Locations: 1173 Alpharetta Street, Roswell 30075, 770-650-1173
- 277 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta 30064, 770-425-5050
- More info: douceurdefrance.com
The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
One exceptional event on anyone’s list might be a visit to the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta Hotel. The Ritz is celebrating their third year of a “Naughty and Nice” tea. These festive affairs are planned for Fridays, Dec. 6, 13 and 20 with seating choices at either 2 or 4 p.m. Reservations are recommended. The cost is $45 for an adult and $30 for a child aged 3 through 5.
Grandchildren will sip seasonal teas or apple cider paired with classic afternoon tea offerings, such as traditional egg salad, tea cookies and warmed scones.
Grandparents, however, might choose to indulge their naughty side with Perrier-Jouët, strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier and topped with whipped cream. Christmas décor is an added experience for all to enjoy.
“Toys and Tea,” another Ritz-Carlton event, is set for Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21 and includes storytellers, carolers and a visit with Santa. Cost is $50 for an adult and $30 per child.
That’s not all. Visit the website for details on more family-friendly ways to enjoy the holiday, like “Christmas Day Brunch” and personal “Santa Tuck-Ins,” an evening visit from Saint Nick to the children of families staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta.
- Location: 181 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30303, 404-659-0400
- More info: ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/georgia/atlanta, click on ‘Hotel Overview,’ then ‘Calendar of Events.’
Harry & David
If your family or friends celebrate Hanukkah, stop by Harry & David’s. They usually open kiosks in Atlanta area malls (and some stores) for convenience and sampling. Their website makes for one-stop shopping, whether it’s for Christmas or Hanukkah—and they’re willing to ship gift packages almost anywhere.
The brothers, Harry and David, have their father to thank for their world-renowned pears, perfect for any holiday. According to company history, Samuel Rosenberg was a successful hotel owner in Seattle in 1910, when he traded his luxurious hotel for 240 acres of prime pear orchards in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley.
By 1934, the company began creating gourmet gift baskets, featuring pears, for most holidays. By 2014, Harry & David joined the 1-800-Flowers family of brands, which includes cookies, chocolates, pears and much, much more.
- More info: harryanddavid.com
Benne for Kwanza and the New Year
If Kwanza is a special holiday in your family, plenty of recipes are available. The emphasis on Kwanza is cultural, not religious, and there’s always room at the table for a cookie or two.
Traditionally, Kwanza tables are decorated with special symbols, starting with a multi-colored African made tablecloth. The “Seven Principles” that unite African families are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
Although no one food is designated as a Kwanza treat, West African benne wafers, also called benne cakes, are associated with good luck. According to the Olde Colony Bakery website, “benne” is a Bantu word for sesame. Sesame seeds were brought to the southern U.S. by African slaves, along with sweet potatoes, okra and peanuts.
Even if you don’t celebrate Kwanza, benne wafers are easy to make and fun to eat—and there are lots of recipes online. Or you can simply order authentic benne wafers from online bakeries around Charleston and Savannah.
- More info: Olde Colony Bakery, Mount Pleasant, S.C., 843-216-3232, oldecolonybakery.com
- Charleston Specialty Foods, Charleston, S.C., 843-744-8991, charlestonspecialtyfoods.com
- Byrd’s Famous Cookies, Savannah, Ga., 800-291-2973, byrdcookiecompany.com
Regardless of the holiday, making colorful cookies and purchasing tasty treats can add sweetness to every occasion.
More Sweet Treats
There are many bakeries and pastry shops in the north metro Atlanta area, and everyone seems to have their favorite spot to shop for holiday sweets. We’ve rounded up a few that are not to be missed.
Buttermilk Sky Pie
Pre-order your favorite holiday pie. Among the many delectable choices are Spiced Pumpkin, Granny’s Apple, Southern Custard and I-40, a pecan pie that’s sprinkled with chocolate chips and coconut.
- Location: 4600 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs 30342, 404-975-3822
- More info: 404-975-3822, buttermilkskypie.com
Henri’s Bakery & Deli
Atlanta residents have loved the gourmet baked goods from Henri’s since it opened its doors in 1929. Their delicious cakes, croissants and eclairs delight everyone through the year, and special occasion cakes can be ordered for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year’s Eve. Watch their website for the release of their holiday menu!
- Locations: 6289 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs 30328, 404-256-7934
- 56 East Andrews Drive, Atlanta 30305, 404-237-0202
- 2310 Coronet Way, Atlanta 30318, 404-968-9412
- More info: henrisbakery.com
Highland Bakery & Kitchen
Originally begun as a wholesale bakery in 1910, Highland Bakery has become a staple for southern comfort foods. The Highland Avenue location bakes holiday themed cakes, cookies and biscuits that can be picked up at there or at other locations.
- Locations: 655 Highland Avenue, Atlanta 30312, 404-586-0772
- 319 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur 30030, 470-270-8979
- 3343 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30316, 678-904-2146
- 1180 Peachtree Street, Atlanta 30309, 404-835-3130
- 25 Park Place, Atlanta 30303, 404-330-8922
- More info: highlandbakery.com
This local favorite has been a family business since it opened as Smyrna Bakery in 1940. In addition to its regular wide selection of cakes, pies and pastries, the bakery offers special Christmas treats, such as the Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Man, Loaf Fruitcake, and cookies and cupcakes decorated for the holidays.
- Location: 1184 Concord Road, Smyrna 30080, 770-434-3115
- More info: mcentyresbakery.com
Nothing Bundt Cakes
All the holidays are covered with specially decorated bundt cakes, but you will want to be sure to order as early as possible—by December 9 for sure! There’s “Baking Spirits Bright” and “Merry & Bright” for Christmas, as well as “Happy Hanukkah” and “Ring in the New Year.”
- Locations: 5975 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs 30328, 404-236-2114
- 400 Village Green Circle, Smyrna 30080, 678-841-0130
- 5230 Windward Parkway, Milton 30004,678-366-1445
- 410 Peachtree Parkway, Cumming 30041, 470-839-2985
- 1985 Cobb Parkway, Kennesaw 30152, 678-737-2253
- 2118 Scenic Highway, Snellville 30078, 770-674-4636
- 4280 Lavista Road, Tucker 30084, 770-270-5695
- More info: nothingbundtcakes.com
Southern Baked Pie Company
Formerly known as Buttermilk Pie Company, this bakery specializes in sweet and savory pies made with seasonal produce from Georgia farmers. The selection ranges from Cranberry Apple Crumble and Georgia Peach to Chicken Pot Pie and Sausage and Onion Quiche.
- Locations: 4300 Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta 30339, 404-301-4854
- 3145 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30305, 404-263-0820
- 2685 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta 30009, 678-254-0598
- 302 Broad Street, Gainesville 30501, 678-971-2555
- More info: southernbakedpie.com
Gourmet gingersnaps are perfect for any season but are especially warming on cold days. There are other flavors to choose from, including Cocoasnaps and Pnuttysnaps, as well as seasonal cookies.
- Location: 229 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs 30328, 404-497-9210
- More info: 404-497-9210, susansnaps.com