So you've been invited to, like, a million holiday parties, and you must bring something. You could bring booze, but sugar is really what's in this year. And Los Angeles is brimming with sweet options, so you'll be branded the Sugar Plum Fairy the moment you make your grand entrance, pastry packed box in hand.
Sweet Lady Jane: She is an evil woman, that Lady Jane. This is probably the queen of all LA bakeries, sporting transportive cakes (as in transporting you to bliss). But there's not just cake. Cheesecakes, pies, tarte tatins, and cookies are all beautifully represented. Bring a dessert from Sweet Lady Jane, and watch everyone fall into a sugar coma. Word of warning: if you need a bigger cake, check online and order ahead.
8360 Melrose Ave.
Susina: Such fabulous little cookies of good fortune. Susina is a bakery along more traditional lines, with buttery croissants (perfect for a brunch) and meticulously formed cookies that seem to be from another century, or at least another country (say, Italy). The enormous brownies can really serve four, and the molten chocolate cakes are swooningly delicious. What has always stood out for me, though, is the tiramisu; order a whole one and get the party really glopped up.
7122 Beverly Blvd.
Joan's on 3rd: Joan's has very good bars, cookies, and cupcakes. In fact, the coconut cupcakes are some of the best I've ever had. And now that the establishment has expanded, ordering at Joan's is far less of a nightmare. That being said, it's still a pain in the ass, so be prepared for chaos and obnoxious hollywood types babbling on cells.
8550 W. 3rd St.
Little John's Toffee: It's just a little stand in the old Farmer's Market, but Little John's makes superior english toffee. With just the right ratio of chocolate and nuts to buttery toffee, each piece is a true candy experience. Plus, the toffee doesn't stick to your teeth (which is good, since finding a dentist during Christmas isn't easy). Boxes are reasonably priced, and a lovely party addition.
6333 W. 3rd St. (inside Farmer's Market)
Mashti Malone's: Ok, bringing ice cream to a party might seem weird. But some of Mashti Malone's flavors deserve their own dedicated tasting. Owned by Iranian Americans, this strange ice cream store features flavors like Ginger, Orange Blossom and Rosewater. That makes for an end of a meal that's more like an international adventure. And this isn't a gimmick: the flavors are really good and really refreshing.
1525 N. La Brea
Sprinkles: I don't really like cupcakes. They always make me want to lick the icing off and toss the rest. But if you must have cupcakes, you could do worse than Sprinkles. They offer a huge variety, and the quality is good. Plus, they're efficient and understand how to pack the little boogers so they don't get destroyed. It's not that their cupcakes are better than, say, Joan's, but the procurement is certainly easier.
9635 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills