Desserts are an essential part of most holiday meals, and that includes those that we enjoy when dining out. Area chefs and bakers are upping the ante when it comes to sweetening up the holiday season — whether it's something sugary to start your day or a treat to finish a meal.
Here's a look at what some area pastry elves are doing to bring a little Christmas cheer to your tastebuds.
This busy restaurant in the Hamilton Place neighborhood is known for its Greek specialties, such as its moussaka and Eggplant Napoleon, as well as lamb chops and twin filets. But the Kyriakidis family also treats diners to a special dessert each Christmas: a creamy, white chocolate-peppermint cheesecake in a chocolate crust. It's served during the month of December and requires nothing more than a sweet tooth and, ideally, a reservation — this cheesecake brings in hordes of holiday shoppers from throughout the area.
2213 Hamilton Place Blvd., 423-899-5341, acropolisgrill.com.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
The Bread Basket
Fill your basket this Christmas with some of The Bread Basket's yummy cream cheese muffins. They're big, beautiful and brimming with the flavor of sweet cream cheese. They freeze beautifully, too, so while you're picking up a few for yourself, go ahead and get a baker's dozen to have on hand for an afternoon tea with friends or overnight guests who come for the holidays. These muffins are The Bread Basket's signature confection and sell out quickly, especially around the holidays, so get there early to get your fill.
5023 Hixson Pike; 1301 Dorchester Road; 8804 East Brainerd Road; 2116 Taft Highway, Signal Mountain; and 1707 Keith St. in Cleveland, breadbasket.com
Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (Signal Mountain location closes at 6 p.m.); 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
The coconut tres leches cake is a house favorite at SideTrack and, for many, a Christmas classic. The recipe was developed by a friend and former customer at Canyon Grill, back when restaurateur and SideTrack owner Lawton Haygood still ran it.
The cake is on the menu year-round, but there's just something about all that coconut creaminess that makes it a particularly beautiful addition to your meal during the holidays. It arrives at your table overloaded with freshly made whipped cream on top of a wedge of the moistest cake you can imagine, topped with toasted coconut — a lot of it — that makes this dessert delicious without being too sweet.
3514 Hixson Pike, 423-414-2690, sidetrackhere.com
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Rembrandt's Coffee House
Bursting with coconut and pecans in a rich, moist vanilla cake with cream-cheese frosting, Rembrandt's Italian cream cake garnished with festive embellishments will decorate your table and provide a luscious indulgence for your holiday guests.
You can get it any time of year, but when it's the holiday season, you'll find it merrily decorated with the colors of Christmas.
204 High St., 423-321-0235, bluffviewartdistrictchattanooga.com/rembrandtscoffeehouse
Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. seven days.
River Street Deli
One look in the dessert case at this popular Coolidge Park deli will make your mouth water, especially this time of year when baker Sarah Crook spins her magic, making her oversized sugar cookies filled with butter and sugar and sprinkled with even more sugar for an over-the-top sweet finish. While you're there, get a few extra to leave for Santa, and maybe you'll find more presents beneath the tree this year.
151 River St. (at Coolidge Park), 423-756-3354, riverstdeli.com
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday-Friday; 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.