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In the past, truly great bakery gift boxes were hard to come by. You either had to go to a bakery you loved, pick up the box, and somehow get it to your loved one; or you had to order a gift box from a catalogue featuring cakes and cookies of questionable origin.
But not anymore. With sites like Goldbelly, you no longer have to squander your vacation waiting in line for the city's best cookie. Have that cookie shipped straight to your door whenever you want—and the next time you have the ability to fly to a place you do not live, go out and enjoy the countryside or something, I don't know your life.
The treats below (some sweet, some savory) all come from some of America's best regional bakeries and make great edible gifts. Every one can be shipped anywhere within the United States.
Peppermint Patty Cake From Ovenly
New York Magazine named Brooklyn-based Ovenly's cakes the best in the city in 2017. That is...not an easy category to dominate. Ovenly's Brooklyn Blackout has become the requisite cake-to-dream-about for many New Yorkers and visitors. But this cake isn't an everyday New York sweet. It's a holiday melange of chocolate cake, peppermint buttercream, and an ombre vanilla-to-chocolate buttercream that's topped off with ganache and gold dust. Essentially, it's the best candy mashed up with the best big city cake.
Pretzel Shortbread from Lost Bread Co.
When our staffer Andrew Spena first tasted the pretzel shortbread from Philadelphia's Lost Bread Company, he Slacked the entire Epi team a message to let us know that he was "freaking out." Don't worry, it was the good kind of freaking out. These special snacks are made by folding leftover pretzels into shortbread dough. Then, that whole mess gets a coating of lye to infuse it with extra pretzel-y flavor. They're crunchy and soft, salty and sweet, and Andrew "can't stop telling people how much they need to try them."
Babka From Breads Bakery
It's hard to go wrong with tender enriched bread braided into a loaf and swirled with chocolate. And that's before the Nutella got involved. When I mentioned including babka on this list to my colleagues Maggie Hoffman and David Tamarkin during separate conversations, both turned wistful. Their eyes glossed over as they stared into the horizon, each remembering some pristine babka moment from their past. And then each uttered the same phrase: "I just can't imagine babka better than Breads." Here's your chance to have that same moment.
Kouign Amann from Les Madeleines
The specialty at Les Madeleines in Salt Lake City is Kouign Amann, a laminated pastry that hails from Brittany in Northwestern France. With croissant-like layers of buttery, rich dough and crackling sugar that gets caramelized and gooey in some spots and stays crunchy in others, chef-owner Romina Rasmussen calls this the pastry for lovers of salted caramel.
Chocolate Chess Pie From Muddy's Bake Shop
This pie has a fudgy, pudding-meets-ganache-like center, a crackly top, and an all-butter crust, and it has been drawing in Memphis crowds for more than a decade. It's so good, in fact, that the NY Post named Muddy's one of the top 16 bakeries in America in 2017 along with stalwarts like Tartine in San Francisco and Flour in Boston (more on that one below). And while I also have to call out their Coconut Chess Pie as a thing of beauty, it's this chocolate version that really comes to me in my dreams.
Panettone From From Roy
The typical panettone is enriched and yeasted and stuffed with dried and candied fruit. They're perfectly nice (and From Roy even has one closer to the traditional, if that's what you're into). But my coworker Maggie "never cared much about panettone" until she tasted From Roy's chocolate-caramel-pecan version. She's also "never seen people freak out about panettone—even go online in the middle of dessert to try to score one" the way they did when she bought her first one for a dinner party. She's purchased a few more since, and says "it’s crazy-rich, tender, moist, and just really, really special."
Pizza Bagels From Black Seed Bagels
Black Seed Bagels might be from New York, but they aren't necessarily of New York. Instead, executive chef Dianna Daoheung borrows techniques from Montreal for a hybrid bagel that sports the best features of both its forebears. It's slightly sweet due to a honey-water poach and crisp from the wood-fired oven bake. It's also slightly smaller and chewier than the traditional New York bagel. For a classic (yet exceptional) bagel experience, go for the pack with beet-cured lox and horseradish cream cheese. But, for something a little more fun and celebratory, opt for the pizza bagel party pack: 12 bagels (choose from poppy, sesame, everything, multigrain, plain, or assorted), tomato sauce, mozz, and pepperoni, all ready for you to assemble for an A+ retro experience.
Croissant Doughnuts From Angel Food Bakery and Donut Bar
The Points Guy has named Angel Food's MSP outpost one of the most notable airport food establishments in the country. But if you're not flying through Minneapolis this holiday season, you can still get a taste. Their answer to the Cronut is this knot of laminated pastry dubbed the "Dough-Napart" by television host and travel writer Andrew Zimmern. Each knot has about 243 buttery, flaky layers, a sweet vanilla glaze, and takes three days to make.
Huckleberry Cheesecake From Elle's Belles Bakery
Elle's Belles in Bozeman, Montana is renowned for its custom wedding cakes, hand-painted cookies, and sort-of astonishing animal-replica groom's cakes. Also astonishing? This cheesecake, which has an expert balance of creamy and tart. The cheesecake rests between a buttery graham crust and a layer of vibrant huckleberry compote.
All the Cookies From Levain Bakery
The chocolate chip–walnut cookie from Levain is considered by many soft-cookie lovers to be the best chocolate chip cookie in New York. It's truly giant, sort of gooey, and packed with melting chocolate and toasty walnuts. But that's not the only cookie they make. There's also the Dark Chocolate–Chocolate Chip and the Oatmeal Raisin and the Dark Chocolate–Peanut Butter Chip. Each cookie weighs in at a hefty six ounces (an average cookie is more like one-and-one-quarter ounces) and each one is worthy of a holiday moment in the sun.
BUY IT: Levain's Signature Cookie Assortment, $68 for 12, $49 for eight, or $27 for four at LevainBakery.com
Sticky Buns From Flour
Joanne Chang's sticky buns have entranced many—including Bobby Flay, whom she bested when he challenged her on his Food Network show Throwdown. The sticky bun starts with yeasted brioche that gets fermented overnight and filled with cinnamon sugar and toasted pecans then baked and dunked in a gooey honey-and-brown-sugar caramel and covered with more nuts. It's actually everything you ever wanted a sticky bun to be.
Biscuits From Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.
Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. in Washington, DC made a name for itself by serving biscuit sandwiches piled high with fried chicken, sausage and eggs, and pimento cheese. Now you can bring any of their four award-winning biscuit flavors into your home—or the home of anyone you love—and dress them up with a holiday ham or whatever you like. Biscuit flavors include classic buttermilk, sweet potato, cheddar, and sweet corn. The bakery gift boxes come six-biscuits-to-a-pack, frozen, and ready to bake straight from the freezer.
Coffee Cake From Zingerman's
You could, very easily, make Zingerman's Hot Cocoa Cake at home. Our site director, David Tamarkin does often. You could also buy, easily, their oft-imitated sour cream coffee cake. But the pro move is to opt for Zingerman's Chocolate-Tahini Coffee Cake. The combo of chocolate and tahini evokes a sophisticated peanut butter cup, melted down and swirled into the most tender, delicious cake.
Help your loved ones master the art of pastry.
Galette de Rois From Épicerie Boulud
This classic French pastry situation from one of New York's premiere bakeries comes with all the hard work (making puff pastry, making frangipane, assembling) done. All your recipient needs to do is bake it so that it's at peak deliciousness when it's ready to eat. What emerges from the oven is a stunning tower of flaky layers filled with almond paste and a "trinket." (Whoever finds the trinket is the "king for the day.") These cakes are typically enjoyed between New Year's Day and the Feast of the Epiphany in France, but yours can be eaten whenever the mood strikes.
All the Bread From Manresa
"I'm not a fancy-restaurant person, but I do harbor a secret desire to make a special trip to Los Gatos, California; book an AirBNB with an infinity pool; and have a five-hour-long meal at Manresa. Until I actually do that, I have Manresa Bread, the bakery offshoot of the restaurant, to send me their truly special loaves and pastries." —David Tamarkin
Carrot Cake Pie From PieLab
In Greensboro, Alabama, PieLab is not only making some of the best pies in the South, they're also doing it in a community-focused space that's been sparking conversation—not to mention social change—for the last 10 years. Their carrot cake pie is just what it sounds like: the classic cake, with all its spices, earthiness, and even cream cheese icing, in chewy chess pie form.
Macarons From Bakery Lorraine
This San Antonio–based shop is run by two Thomas Keller alums. Thrillist called their macarons not only the best in San Antonio, but the best in all of Texas. Flavors switch out seasonally and could include Earl Grey, Birthday Cake, Peruvian Chocolate, Zinfandel, or Pumpkin Spice.
Challah From Lior the Baker
This bakery in Scottsdale, Arizona turns out superior hamantaschen, rugelach, and bourekas. They also have enormous almond croissants. But the challah is really what's exceptional. Go for the poppy seed, which really shows off the braided swirls of rich egg dough. Serve it savory with dinner, or turn it into the best French toast of your life.
Sablé From Little Tart Bakeshop
Sablé is a classic French shortbread and once you've tasted it, you'll understand why many consider it a Christmas essential. This assortment from Atlanta bakery Little Tart Bakeshop includes four kinds of sablés: pecan cinnamon, Earl Grey, lavender lemon, and mocha—each one an excellent partner for tea, cocoa, coffee, and all the holiday cheer your clan can muster.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious