Eat sweet: A roundup of Asheville’s holiday-inspired treats

SAY, WHAT'S IN THIS DRINK?: Urban Orchard's winter beverage starts with the company's cranberry cider and ginger champagne before fresh-squeezed Valencia orange juice, zest and traditional mulling spices are added. "This is truly the holidays in a steaming mug," says marketing and creative director Jeff Anderson. Photo by Jeff Anderson

Even if you have to buy your own, handmade seasonal sweets are a gift from the artisans who create them. Here’s a roundup of some of the holiday-inspired flavors available in Asheville this winter.

Karen Donatelli

In addition to Christmas sugar cookies and holiday assortments, local baker Karen Donatelli is whipping up buche de noel. This seasonal offering, she explains is “a Christmas classic of a flavored genoise cake rolled with chocolate hazelnut, Irish Cream or chocolate raspberry and decorated to resemble a log with meringue mushrooms, chocolate shavings and marzipan holly leaves and berries — oh my!” Donatelli will also offer Italian panettone with citrus and rum-soaked raisins in addition to flavored mousses like eggnog, gingerbread and créme de methe. donatellicakedesigns.com. 57 Haywood Street.

The Chocolate Lab

The Chocolate Lab has several options for peppermint aficionados, including peppermint bark available until Christmas, a forthcoming peppermint truffle and minty options at the shop’s hot chocolate bar and fondue station (which include a variety of toppings and spices to be put in hot chocolate). The chocolatier’s assorted fondue pots and fondue-dipped items will be available all winter in gift packaging. thechocolatelab.biz. 2 Weaverville Road, Suite 201.

Frostbite Ice Cream

Frostbite, West Asheville’s new soft-serve joint, is adding peppermint, cookies and milk (Santa’s favorite, if you ask co-owner Jason Istvan), and apple cider ice creams to its lineup of staples. “The apple cider ice cream is made with apples that come from a farmer in nearby Henderson County, made fresh every day into mulled hot apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc., and then blended in to make a delicious ice cream,” Istvan says. Additional seasonal flavors will be forthcoming. frostbiteicecream.com. 1475 Patton Ave.

Photo of Buche de Noel from Short Street Cakes
Photo of Buche de Noel from Short Street Cakes

Short Street Cakes

Baking cranberry-orange white cake, rum pecan pound cake, peppermint candy cane cake, eggnog cake deluxe and holiday cookies and pies will certainly keep the Short Street Cakes team busy this winter. Owner Jodi Rhoden will also bake her favorite cake, a Buche de Noel, which she calls “a beautiful and simple cake, with ancient roots in celebrating the cycles of the seasons and the return of the light.” Shop visitors can stop in to decorate Rhoden’s gingerbread people at an icing station or try Short Street’s take on “The Turducken of Dessert” — a pie baked inside a cake. shortstreetcakes.com. 225 Haywood Road.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

New to French Broad Chocolate Lounge’s existing fleet of truffles are several festive flavors. In addition to gingerbread, peppermint, eggnog, champagne and pecan pie caramel truffles, the shop is reinventing a contentious dessert: fruitcake. “Don’t be swayed by fruitcakes of your past,” says shop co-owner Jael Rattigan. “It’s amazing.” frenchbroadchocolates.com. 10 S. Pack Square.

Urban Orchard Cider Co.

Cider, as it turns out, plays well with chocolate. Accordingly, Urban Orchard recently teamed up with French Broad Chocolate Lounge to create two cider-infused treats — an orange-flavored, soft caramel made with cranberry cider and coated in dark chocolate plus hard caramel squares made with Dry Ridge cider and dipped in milk chocolate. Three of each flavor come gift wrapped with a growler of Urban Orchard’s cranberry cider, a logo pint glass and a $15 gift card to the store. Packages are available in the cidery while supplies last. The Orchard will also serve its Cran-orange hot mulled cider, pictured above. urbanorchardcider.com. 210 Haywood Road.

The Hop's Yule Log is available in gluten-free format with a special order.
The Hop’s yule log is available in gluten-free format with a special order. Photo by Michael Bradley Keane

The Hop Ice Cream Café

Last year, the Hop sold 120 of its Yule Logs, made with chocolate cake and a choice of salted caramel, peppermint stick or vanilla bean ice creams and then covered with chocolate ice cream. Shop co-owner Greg Garrison was even moved to write a poem for the company creation. An excerpt from his ode reads: “When frozen and ready / And placed in it’s own little box / We deftly and festively decorate / To add holiday spirit to the log / Then home with you it goes / To be served when you please / To provide all of your guests / With a sweet and delicious holiday treat.” Slices are available in both stores, and whole log orders are available upon request. thehopicecreamcafe.com. 640 Merrimon Ave., Suite 103 and 721 Haywood Road.

Green Sage Café

Green Sage Café’s pumkin spice latte, on special through December, features a house-made syrup, which is made by melting organic raw sugar in water before adding a dry spice mix, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and clove. Vegan milk options, including coconut, almond and soy milk, are also available. greensagecafe.com. 5 Broadway.

Chocolate snowman photo courtesy of The Chocolate Fetish
Chocolate snowman photo courtesy of The Chocolate Fetish

The Chocolate Fetish

European milk chocolate coats a milk chocolate ganache, flavored with the traditional gingerbread spices in The Chocolate Fetish’s gingerbread truffle. The shop also offers European sipping chocolate during the winter (take-home varieties available year-round) and hand-decorated chocolate snowmen, which wear painted scarves of various colors. chocolatefetish.com. 36 Haywood Street.

High Five Coffee

“In December we typically bring back eggnog lattes from Farm to Home milk as well as peppermint mochas,” says operations manager Emily Peele. “Another thing to keep in mind is that we feature a different creative espresso drink with house-made syrups called the Barista’s Choice every week. These drinks run from Monday afternoon to Sunday close each week.” highfivecoffee.com. 190 Broadway, Suite 102 and 13 Rankin Ave.

Photo of gingerbread homeowners courtesy of Geraldine's Bakery
Photo of gingerbread homeowners courtesy of Geraldine’s Bakery

Geraldine’s Bakery

Not only is Geraldine’s currently carrying gingerbread people and houses and orange spice muffins, but the bakery also has several German delicacies, including pfeffernusse spice cookies and stollen (a sweet yeast bread containing fruit and nuts). This weekend, the bakers will add peppermint cream horns to the menu, and for Christmas, the store will offer pumpkin pies as well as fruit pies. geraldinesbakeryavl.com. 840 Merrimon Ave.

Hickory Nut Gap Farm

A day at the farm stimulates the appetite, which is why Hickory Nut Gap Farm is currently stocking pecan pie (with the featured ingredient sourced from a Georgia-based farmer friend of the farm’s baker), pumpkin pie (sourced from Anthony Coles Farm) and apple pies (sourced from Kevin Lyda in Edneyville). “The crust is made with our very own pastured pork rendered lard and its gorgeous and flavorful,” says co-owner Amy Ager, noting that mini pumpkin chocolate chip loaves and chocolate dipped shortbread cookies are also up for grabs. hickorynutgapfarm.com. 57 Sugar Hollow Road.

Buxton Hall Barbecue

Pies — and lots of them — will be available with three days’ notice from Buxton Hall’s bakery. The mint chocolate silk pie is “refreshing and rich all at once, with a crunchy chocolate cookie crust, filled with a silky minted chocolate mousse and topped with a dark chocolate ganache and housemade peppermint patties,” according to Buxton’s description. In the apple cranberry crumble pie, “gooey, caramelized apples and bright cranberries fill a flaky pie crust and are topped with a crunchy, toasted-oat crumble and rosemary caramel.” The banana pudding pie is “a crowd favorite. Toasted brown sugar meringue covers fresh banana pudding in Buxton’s brown butter bu’nilla wafer crust.” Finally, the eggnog chiffon pie sees “holiday spices and bourbon folded into eggnog cream in a tasty gingerbread crust topped with buttery spiced walnut praline candy crunch.” Sugar cookies will also be available at Buxton’s holiday bash on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 10:30 p.m. buxtonhall.com. 32 Banks Ave.

Isa’s Bistro

While the menu at Isa’s is predominantly savory, the restaurant offers dessert, including this winter’s gingerbread pudding with white chocolate cream, lemon ice cream, gingerbread crunch and candied lemon peel. isasbistro.com. 1 Battery Park Ave.

City Bakery

City Bakery’s version of traditional holiday Stollen bread is “a rich and buttery yeasted dough filled with rum soaked fruits, crunchy toasted almonds and spices. We add lemon and orange zest and top it with powdered sugar.” The café will also have holiday-themed sugar cookies, gingerbread people, coffee cake wreaths, various pies, gingerbread cake with orange molasses cream cheese frosting, peppermint and apple cream rolls, peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes on its menu through Christmas. Most items are available by pre-order. citybakery.net. 60 Biltmore Ave., and 88 Charlotte St.

Found a sweet treat we missed? Share your tips in the comments below or email kmcreynolds@mountainx.com to have additional items considered for coverage. Some products are available in limited quantities, and flavors are subject to change. Call businesses ahead of time to ensure availability.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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