Peppermint Brownies and Cranberry Blondies at Crema Bakery ($2.50/each)
This South Austin neighborhood bakery is currently full of Holiday spirit. I resisted the Christmas tree cake balls in favor of a giant brownie studded with candy cane pieces. The fudgey brownie is topped with a thick layer of rich chocolate icing and then finished with more peppermint pieces. The corresponding cranberry blondie, dotted with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, also caught my eye.
Snowflake Cookies at Sugar Circus Bakery ($2.50/each)
This bakery is tucked into a little house in East Austin and specializes in both vegan and traditional baked goods. Cupcakes dominated the selection the day I stopped in, but these lovely shortbread cookies were also on hand. These are simple, traditional, but excellent shortbreads coated in hard royal icing.
Christmas Cupcakes at Sweetish Hill Bakery ($3.00/each)
In the sea of Christmas cookies and pies, these intricately decorated cupcakes are truly special. Biting into the Santa cupcake, I immediately detected the secret behind the dense frosting—plenty of cream cheese. The reindeer, however, was rich and chocolatey enough to mask the tangy flavor. These cupcakes seem small, but with so much frosting, they're really heavy enough to replace a meal.
Christmas Cookies from Capital City Bakery ($1.25/each)
This Eastside trailer that specializes in fresh baked vegan treats is currently making spirited Lofthouse Style soft sugar cookies in shapes like hearts, Christmas trees, and snowflakes. Their cupcakes are also available in flavors like eggnog and peppermint.
Christmas Cake Balls at Austin Cake Ball ($2.50/each)
Beyond their regular flavors, this cake ball shop is turning out truffle-like cake balls in Holiday flavors. The white chocolate peppermint and chocolate mint are a little restrained in the mint flavor, while the gingerbread chocolate truffle is filled with aromatic gingerbread cake.
Peppermint Oreo Cookie Shake at Cow Tipping Creamery ($3.50)
You never know what kind of crazy concoction will be on the specials menu at this ice cream truck. This shake, made with Cow Tipping Creamery's subtly floral homemade vanilla soft-serve, was reliably superb. Filled with plenty of Oreo cookie pieces of different sizes and shapes, it has just the right balance of cooling peppermint flavor.
Mint Rushmore at Hey Cupcake! ($3.00/each)
I've tried several cupcake flavors at this trailer turned storefront and this one might be my favorite. The calming mint flavor helps to balance Hep Cupcake's famously sweet buttercream frosting. The dense chocolate cake is made with Andes Mint pieces.
Piewiches at Royers Pie Haven ($5.00/each)
I still don't get why these cookie sandwiches are called "piewiches" because there's no trace of pie in these treats. Nevertheless, the Austin location of this iconic pie shop is selling these behemoth treats this Christmas season. Two chocolate chip cookies are filled with buttercream frosting and rolled in candy cane pieces. Though festive, I think I prefer the cookies by themselves.
Gingerbread Cookie Cream Puff at Cream Whiskers ($2.25/each)
This newly opened West Campus spot specializes in Taiwanese cream puffs. Customers can choose from regular or "cookie" puffs with a crispy topping. Fillings include vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, but a gingerbread filling is also available for the Holidays. It's subtly flavored with spices like cinnamon, clove, and ginger.
Santa's Little Helper at Amy's Ice Creams ($4.15/small)
Local chain Amy's Ice Creams is known for special flavors popping up unexpectedly at their locations around town. This Christmas season, some of the shops are selling "Santa's Little Helper," which is a sweet cream ice cream flavored with Cherry Schnapps and loaded with dark chocolate chunks and coconut. "Reindeer Treat", which is filled with molasses, cinnamon, Biscoff cookies, and brown sugar, will also appear on the flavor list at various locations.