Home cooks tend to focus on the entree and sides when prepping for a holiday meal, while appetizers and nibbles grab the spotlight at holiday parties. Sweets often make a splash at these gatherings, but skill and time may stand in consumers' way of whipping up homemade treats. In fact, 24% of consumers never make dessert at home, according to Technomic’s Dessert Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite. This season, operators are filling the gap with creative and convenient desserts to go, many of which are themed to the holidays.
1. Cookies for a crowd
Party hosts short on holiday treats can turn to McAlister’s Deli. The chain is offering cookie trays for group gatherings ($14) and cookie bundles ($8) for smaller get-togethers. Customers can select their desired number of cookies in a variety of flavors, including Heath cookie crunch, salted caramel, chocolate chip, sugar, white chocolate macadamia nut and oatmeal raisin.
2. Dessert by the dozen
Sprinkles Cupcakes has put together its Joy box of seasonal cupcakes ($45), available by the dozen through Dec. 31. Packed inside the box are four cupcake varieties—chocolate peppermint, red velvet, vanilla and gingerbread—tricked out with holiday decorations.
3. An edible Yule log
Chains aren't the only operations helping harried cooks look like baking pros. At Swift & Sons, an upscale indie steakhouse in Chicago, guests can order a buche de noel—the Christmas jelly-roll cake that, per tradition, is baked, filled and iced to look like a woodsy Yule log. Here, the pastry chef fills gingerbread sponge cake with fluffy cream and tops it off with a crown of white chocolate and themed garnishes. The dessert will set customers back $45 for the 6-inch size or $65 for the 10-inch log.
4. One of each
Fans of Rockafeller’s in Virginia Beach, Va., can choose one or all six of the restaurant’s top-selling scratch-made desserts to grace the holiday buffet. The restaurant's limited-time pumpkin pie cake is a seasonal special, boxed and ready for takeout, as are its rum cake, Key lime pie, chocolate eclair cake, coconut cake and chocolate cake. Prices range from $20 to $25.
4. Grab it and go
Bite Catering in Los Angeles displays tiered plates of party-ready mini desserts to grab and go for easy mingling. Created for the holiday season are snowmen cake pops, peppermint chocolate truffle brownies, snowy lime meltaways, candy cane cookies and double chocolate world peace cookies. The sweets are priced at $2 per piece.