During the holiday season, our senses are filled — we see lights glowing on houses, hear classic tunes, smell seasonal food baking in the kitchen, and feel the brisk air of a winter afternoon. Of course, this special time of year would not be complete without the taste of traditional treats, from hot apple cider to chocolate-covered Yule logs. The Times visited Island bakeries and cafes to find out how Martha’s Vineyard celebrates the winter holidays through taste.
Mocha Mott’s, Oak Bluffs
In addition to their steaming hot cups of coffee and winter soups, Mocha Mott’s offers an array of seasonal treats to satisfy the cravings of Islanders during the holidays. Escape the cold on Circuit Avenue and start the day with a fresh gingerbread muffin topped with powdered sugar, a longtime winter favorite that baker Erica McCarron recommends pairing with a hot chai latte for a sweet and spicy combo. Mott’s also serves seasonal red velvet whoopie pies, “Aunt Ellen’s” Swedish spice cake, holiday-themed cupcakes, and gingerbread cookies. Muffins are $2.50 and are available in the cafe daily.
The Black Dog, State Road, Vineyard Haven
For some Islanders, the holiday season wouldn’t be complete without the festive offerings of the Black Dog Bakery. Executive Pastry Chef Laura Beckman has been making her Yule log for the past 11 years; the recipe alone is enough to put us in the holiday spirit. Ms. Beckman bakes a thin sheet of vanilla cake and rolls it up in a Belgian and dark chocolate buttercream. She then covers it with a dark chocolate ganache carefully sculpted to resemble tree bark, and plops meringue mushrooms at the base and a marzipan berry and holly leaf on top. The Black Dog also offers an eggnog cheesecake made with real rum and bourbon with a vanilla buttercream frosting, a bourbon pecan tart, and frosted shortbread cookies that are available in the bakery or for special order. The Yule log is $45.
Scottish Bakehouse, State Road, Vineyard Haven
Baker Caitlin Crossland caters uniquely to the gluten-free crowd during the holiday season, and her gingerbread cake with a maple glaze won’t leave you missing any of the standard ingredients. It is, as counter staff Danielle Doell described, “spicy with a sweet cut,” and would go great with a cup of coffee or a hot apple cider, which the Bakehouse also has on hand this time of year. Ms. Crossland bakes specialty holiday pies and Christmas cookies, always with gluten-free options, for customers looking to bring a treat home for the family. The gingerbread cake is $3.75 a slice; prices for cookies and pies vary.
Espresso Love, Edgartown
While Espresso Love serves the same classic pastries all year round, their winter drinks will put a holiday spin on your morning pick-me-up or afternoon coffee break. The peppermint mocha, topped with whipped cream, powdered chocolate, and a sprig of mint, and the gingerbread latte with a caramel swirl are sweet concoctions perfect for an energy boost during a day of holiday shopping along Main Street in Edgartown. Manager Natalia Oliveira suggests having a blueberry scone alongside the latte to make a festive breakfast or snack out of it. The drinks are $4.50 plus tax.
Morning Glory, Edgartown
Morning Glory knows that Christmas would hardly be Christmas at all without a selection of decadent, festively shaped cookies created by head baker Korilee Connelly. A box of the Farmhouse’s classic buttery biscuits filled with sweet jam is perfect as an addition to a holiday party spread, or to nibble on at home with a warm drink by the fireplace. Morning Glory also offers seasonal pies for special order. Pies range in price from $18.95 to $24.95; cookie prices have yet to be determined.
7a, West Tisbury
Baker Ross Lamkin bases his holiday-inspired confections on customer interest and demand. This year he plans to experiment with new items, and to serve past favorites like decorated shortbread and gingerbread cookies. 7a will also offer peanut butter kisses, walnut drops, and gluten-free chocolate macaroons. Shapes, sizes, and prices vary.