10 Creative Holiday Sweets in NYC

There's something for every sweet tooth this holiday season
December 14, 2016
by Juliet Izon

Lukewarm eggnog and stale shortbread cookies should definitely not be on your Christmas list this year. Instead, feast on some of New York's most unique and delicious holiday sweets, from truffle-topped ice cream to decadent boozy blondies.

Christmas tree at Doughnut Plant
While this bakery's Ripple made more than a ripple this fall, donut mastermind Mark Israel had more tricks up his sleeve for the holidays. The best of the bunch may be the adorable, limited-edition Christmas tree donut, which is stuffed with rich chocolate pudding, glazed with fresh mint frosting, and even festooned with tiny ornaments. It's almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

379 Grand St.; 212-505-3700 ext. 379

Tahini semifreddo at RIDER
At this Williamsburg eatery from chef Patrick Connolly, affiliated with the National Sawdust arts venue, it's not just music that gets mashed up. This holiday season, RIDER offers an innovative take on the traditional Italian dessert, using savory, sesame seed-based tahini instead of a more traditional vanilla or chocolate. Served with gingersnap cookies and Honeycrisp apples, it also gets an umami punch with the addition of miso caramel. 

80 N. 6th St., Brooklyn; 718-210-3152

Grasshopper cake at Milk Bar
The infamous naked cake gets a wardrobe update this season: Milk Bar's Grasshopper is its first confection to feature two flavors of cake; alternating layers of chocolate chip and chocolate malt. And, since this creation is the product of sugar queen Christina Tosi, there are also two different types of frosting (marshmallow–cookies and cream, and mint-cheesecake), and plenty of crunchy, salty-sweet chocolate cookie crumbs. 

251 E. 13th St.; 347-577-9504 ext. 4

Christmas morning cereal at Dominique Ansel Bakery
If you're looking for a gift for a friend that has (eaten) everything, pick up a carton of the limited-edition Christmas morning cereal from pastry mad scientist, Dominique Ansel. Made with puffed rice coated with Valrhona Caramelia chocolate, caramelized hazelnuts and smoked-cinnamon miniature meringues, it is certainly a more decadent — and more delicious— start to your day than a bowl of soggy Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

189 Spring St.; 212-219-2773

Pumpkin donut holes at The Bar Room at The Modern
Regular donut holes will pale in comparison after you try this latest edition to The Modern's Bar Room menu. To make this high-end version, pastry chef Jiho Kim uses a beignet dough flavored with fall spices and pumpkin, which is then fried until perfectly crispy. The delicate orbs are served with pumpkin cream, squash ice cream and sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.

The Museum of Modern Art, 9 W. 53rd St.; 212-333-1220

...And a Parrot in a Palm Tree at Sippin' Santa's Surf Shack at Boilermaker
The only thing better than Christmas-themed bars might be tiki Christmas bars. At the pop-up Sippin' Santa, famed tiki mixologists from across the country have joined forces to create the ultimate Polynesian drink menu with delightful holiday twists. We recommend the Parrot in a Palm Tree, which is a refreshing mix of tequila, mezcal, curacao and spiced coconut syrup, all served in a coconut cup, of course. 

13 1st Ave.; 212-995-5400

The Italian Job Deluxe at Lilia
Missy Robbins' soft serve gelato has rightfully drawn praise from almost every corner of the Internet, but for the holidays, she's added a spectacular twist: truffles. The Italian Job Deluxe is a limited-edition sundae composed of the infamous housemade vanilla gelato, honey, olive oil, Maldon sea salt and a shower of freshly shaved white truffles. Try it now, since as soon as we say goodbye to 2016, it too will vanish.

567 Union Ave., Brooklyn; 718-576-3095

Layer cake from Harold's Meat + Three
At this new Downtown spot from former Commerce chef Harold Moore, Southern cuisine and hospitality reigns supreme. So, it should be no surprise that the restaurant is holding its own holiday bake sale this season, featuring some classic Southern confections. The most festive item is certainly the eye-popping red-and-green layer cake, which is topped with a rich eggnog icing. If that's not enough holiday spirit for you, head upstairs into Arlo Hudson Square Hotel's Winter Wonderland pop-up bar on the rooftop.

2 Renwick St.; 212-374-2632

Boozy pistachio blondie at Ovenly
This Greenpoint bakery with a cult following is known for its curious flavor combinations, so it should be no surprise that its latest holiday offering melds the best of sweet and savory. In an ode to fruitcake (but, you know, not gross), Ovenly studs its blondie with figs and currants, before adding a splash of small-batch bourbon. A sprinkling of pistachios adds crunch, plus a satisfying kick of salt.

31 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn; 888-899-2213

Yippie Ki Yay MF at Miracle at Mace
Always one of the season's most hotly anticipated pop-ups, this year, the Christmas-themed Miracle will actually take up residence at over a dozen bars across the globe. Here in the city, you can check out its kooky libations at the East Village's Mace, where the concept first originated. Try the Yippie Ki Yay MF (a reference to Christmas action flick, Die Hard), a warming mix of two types of rum, cachaça and pumpkin-almond orgeat, topped with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Plus, doesn't everything taste better when you're drinking it out of a santa-pants mug?

649 E. 9th St.; no number

dominique ansel