Knead Bakehouse + Provisions serves sourdough pastries in St. Louis.

8 Sweet Treats from St. Louis for Your Holiday Celebration

Tuesday November 7, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

The holidays put a lot of pressure on people. To shorten your to-do list, let our bakers, makers, confectioners and pastry chefs take care of dessert.

Whether you want to surprise guests with handcrafted ice cream from Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery or you need individual gooey butter cakes from Gooey Louie for your hosts, you can’t go wrong with these sweet treats from St. Louis.

Even if you’re not in the area, you can still indulge in local delights by ordering online.

Janet Shulman owns and operates The Caramel House in St. Louis.
Photo by Mark Hermes

The Caramel House, a small-batch sweets company, cooks up creamy caramel that won’t stick to your teeth. The liquid gold also stars in pecan-coated caramel apples, caramel-stuffed cannoli, Simply Salted caramel popcorn and “Krack,” English toffee that customers crave. Owner Janet Ansehl Shulman’s recipes are 100 percent peanut-free, and she offers a variety of gluten- and nut-free candies and snacks. For your holiday celebration, pick up a gift basket, which features a 12-piece box of Simply Salted caramels, one box of English toffee, 12 Scotch oatmeal cookies, four caramel-marshmallow cookie sandwiches, four chocolate-covered pretzels, two flavors of caramel corn and one jar of caramel sauce. For a more hands-on treat, consider a DIY apple-dipping kit, which comes with two Granny Smith apples, salted caramel, sprinkles, chocolate buttons and four edible emojis – plus, everything you need to package the finished caramel apples. Snag all the gooey goodness that The Caramel House has to offer at its storefront in Olivette or online.

If you're looking for the best sweet treats from St. Louis, stop by Clementine's Naughty and Nice Creamery.
Photo by Gregg Goldman

Italian butter cookie. Maple-bourbon with salted candied pecans. Front porch mint chip. Maple-pumpkin crunch. Salted cracker caramel. Indian chai. Honey-lavender. Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery knows how to tempt your taste buds. At the highly acclaimed creamery, every scoop of ice cream is handcrafted using the finest natural ingredients. Owner Tamara Keefe starts with pure cream and then stirs in flavors from beloved bakeries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants and farms in the St. Louis region. Finally, she tops her exquisite creations with a dash of love and serves them to eager customers – both naughty and nice. Clementine’s also boasts some of the best vegan ice cream in the country – flavors include coconut-chocolate fudge, strawberry crunch, tahini-chocolate chip and lemon poppyseed. Clementine’s ships to every state in the continental U.S., and Keefe has plans to expand to 50 storefronts nationwide. Keep your fingers crossed that one will open near you!

In St. Louis, Gooey Louie sells individual gooey butter cakes.
Photo courtesy of Gooey Louie

Nothing compares to gooey butter cake. Rich, moist and tender, it’s arguably the best dessert in St. Louis. At Gooey Louie, founder Debbie Stieferman makes every gooey butter cake from scratch – “and we don’t skimp on the ingredients,” she says. “There’s butter in every part of the cake: the crust, the cake and ‘the goo.’ Some people say that gooey butter cake is too sweet, but when they taste cakes from Gooey Louie, they like them because the butter makes for a sweet and savory experience.” In business for more than 15 years, Stieferman has also experimented with different flavors of the St. Louis staple. Turtle Park, the second-best-selling flavor, features a chocolate crust, caramel goo and a heap of Missouri pecans and a rich chocolate drizzle on top, while Stieferman’s favorite flavor is the chocolate-peanut butter. Order a classic gooey butter cake for your holiday celebration or snag individual servings of different flavors as gifts for your holiday hosts.

Easy to transport and already divided into individual servings, cupcakes are the perfect way to sweeten your holiday celebration. At Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Café, signature flavors such as Bee Sting, Banana Pudding, Twisted Pink Velvet and Turtle Cheesecake keep customers coming back again and again, but this November, we’re eyeing the seasonal flavors. Imagine sweet potato cake with sweet potato pie filling topped with cream cheese, caramel swirl and whipped cream or brown sugar streusel cake decorated with swirls of blueberry buttercream and maple, brown sugar and cinnamon buttercream. Jilly’s creations only get more elaborate from there – we’re partial to the cupcake finished with a slice of Kentucky bourbon chocolate pecan pie.

Kakao Chocolate specializes in handcrafted truffles like these.
Photo courtesy of Kakao Chocolate

At Kakao Chocolate, you won’t find any conveyor belts feeding chocolate into machines. Here, chocolatier Brian Pelletier and his team temper the chocolate, dip the truffles, stir the caramel and make the marshmallows – all by hand. The extra time and care that they put into the process produces a higher quality that you’ll taste with your first bite. As you shop for an assortment of truffles, caramels and barks for your next holiday celebration, remember to choose a treat or two for yourself. Over the years, Kakao Chocolate has won Good Food Awards for its lavender truffle, raspberry-goat cheese truffle, Turkish coffee truffle and Viennese truffle – so, you might want to start there. Multi-piece boxes of truffles and caramels make it easy to stock up for festive gatherings, but if you have time, create your own collection of unique confections with Missouri pecan bark, marshmallow pies, bacon-pecan brittle, pâte de fruits, almond dragées, hot chocolate mix and more.

Co-owner Kirsten Brown shows off her sourdough pastries at Knead Bakehouse + Provisions.
Photo by Mark Hermes

Specializing in sourdough, Knead Bakehouse + Provisions offers delicious sourdough pastries for any occasion – say, a Wednesday morning. But we’re here for the holidays, right? This time of year, owners AJ and Kirsten Brown fill their sourdough pie crust with Missouri-grown Empire and Jonathan apples, Missouri pecans and roasted Double Star Farms pumpkin for decadence with local flair. If you want to start the day with something sweet, snag a medley of apple crumb bars, cranberry-orange fritters, jumbo chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and sourdough brioche donuts in flavors such as maple-brown sugar, orange-cardamom-sugar and apple cider glazed. Want to gift the best of the Midwest pantry? Knead Bakehouse + Provisions curates gift boxes with everything from Knead sourdough starter and Janie’s Mill flour to Knead shortbread sugar cookies, Askinosie chocolate and Millis Meadows honey – a present that any epicure would welcome.

Someone refills the pastry case at La Pâtisserie Chouquette.
Photo by Cam Kennedy

Known as the maven of macarons, Simone Faure also crafts lemon sherbet cream puffs, pumpkin pasties with cream cheese dough, bourbon-pecan morning buns and more at La Pâtisserie Chouquette, a French-inspired pastry boutique in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Not to be confused with a chocolate croissant, The Darkness is a bestseller comprised of flaky chocolate dough, two chocolate batons, rich chocolate drizzle, pink Himalayan sea salt and powdered sugar – a wicked combination that will surely lure you to the dark side. Warning: The Darkness is not for the faint of heart, or the procrastinator. Along with other coveted confections, it often sells out. To elevate your holiday meals with Faure’s exquisite pastries, make sure you get to La Pâtisserie Chouquette early in the day.

Kizmet Chocolates makes CBD-infused bars.
Photo courtesy of Kizmet Chocolates

Saddleback Chocolates specializes in premium custom chocolates for festive occasions. In addition to gift boxes with truffles, caramels and bark, you can get “Thank You” bars made with milk or dark chocolate to give to your holiday hosts. Looking for a conversation starter? Check out Saddleback Chocolates’ Kizmet Chocolates, one of the country’s first lines of CBD-infused confections. The all-natural, plant-based chocolates have CBD in every bite to support your daily wellness. The secret recipe boasts rich flavor, antioxidant flavonoids and pure, full-spectrum, full-strength hemp CBD oil for stress relief, reduced inflammation and lower blood pressure. Kizmet’s confections come in flavors such as blood orange, chile-lime and classic dark chocolate. Establishments throughout Missouri and Illinois sell Kizmet Chocolates, or you can order them online.

Are you still shopping for other holiday gifts? Check out our St. Louis gift guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list. Most of these one-of-a-kind items are available in stores and online.