I flashed, first, on the Hanukkah cookies, little gingerbread boys and girls wearing cobalt-blue bows and yarmulkes. The rest of the holiday cookie line-up from Susie Cakes, the upscale, boutique bakery based in California, land of palm trees decked with Christmas lights and 75-degree New Year’s, charmed me, too. I got founder Susan Sarich on the phone for the scoop on the goods that appear once a year—including the new ones to look out for as we big farewell to one year and usher in the new.
“The Hanukkah boys and girls came about in the early years,” Sarich says. “I grew up Italian Catholic,” but with Jewish friends who would come over and eat her grandmothers’ cookies—the Italian Christmas tradition writ large and taking in anyone who was charmed by icing and sprinkles. “What would be really cute,” she thought when she’d opened her bakery, was the inclusive adorableness that charmed me.
And now New Year’s cookies—all festive confetti and popped Champagne bottles—are new. “We used to do pretty much gold and black, gold and black. And I never honestly felt like it was right. It always looked too formal or elegant,” Sarich says. “‘Our best-selling cake is the Celebration cake. Why don’t we put our confetti on cookies?’” she asked herself. “Like when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.”
The champagne cupcakes for New Year’s Eve, the mimosa cupcakes for New Year’s Day brunch: they have a coordinated approach to the cusp. Both are new this year, too. And the hot chocolate cupcake is new. Sarich loved the marshmallow buttercream frosting that went on a special-event s’mores cupcake. What other cupcake would have marshmallow cream? Hot cocoa, naturally.
Sarich grew up in Chicago before she moved to Los Angeles and opened the bakery that has more than a dozen outposts in California and only five others, three in North Texas. She talks about the artificial snow that turns The Grove, a shopping center not far from Melrose in L.A., into a flurry of white every night. “People put lights in their palm trees. It’s still so weird to me,” she says. “It’s like, ‘We’re in the film business, let’s make it a winter wonderland.’” Or you could say it with cookies.
The treats will be available all Susie Cakes locations.
Available now through December 24:
Hot chocolate cupcakes
Frosted sugar and gingerbread cookies
Available now through December 31:
Chocolate candy cane cake
Available December 28 through December 31:
Frosted sugar cookies (New Years theme)