NYC during winter is like a Christmas Tree — slightly drab by day, spectacularly sparkly by night. If fall is our favourite season during which to wander about NYC, winter would come a close second, particularly in the weeks just before Christmas. One of the most magical parts of Christmas in New York are its Christmas Markets — they are not the sprawling markets that one finds in Europe, but rather more like pockets of cute gift shops and nostalgic food stands. In previous years, we have visited the one crammed into the south-western corner of Central Park near Lincoln Centre, the indoor one at Grand Central Terminal, and the one that most resembles a continental European market at Union Square.
Our favourite though, would have to be at Bryant Park. Maybe it’s because it exudes a Hollywood movie-worthy vibe, with its ice skating rink at the centre, a sometimes-frozen fountain, all wreathed by golden lit glass huts and enclosed by towering skyscrapers and the New York Public Library. Or maybe because it’s a one-stop shop for some of the most delicious seasonal dessert treats in the city. Either way, if apple cider doughnuts in the Hudson Valley make a New York fall, then a hot chocolate in one hand and a ginger snap cookie (or s’more waffle) in the other while meandering around Bryant Park and then onwards to the nearby midtown district, that must make for a perfectly imagined New York Christmas.
Chewing Not Allowed
- Dessert must-eat: Hot chocolate.
- Budget: Approx $5.
- Short & sweet story: If you have to drink one hot chocolate this winter, make it the cup from Chewing Not Allowed. A mainstay of the Christmas markets for the last five years that we have been in NYC, we always make sure to brave the lines for this molten ambrosia. Always creamy, always hot (unlike the tepid lukewarm rubbish at other hot chocolate vendors!), Chewing Not Allowed’s hot chocolate is a perfect balance of slightly-sweet, but not too-sweet.
Wafels & Dinges
- Dessert must-eat: S’mores waffles.
- Budget: Approx $12.
- Short & sweet story: Similar to Chewing Not Allowed, Wafels & Dinges remains one of our favourite Christmas season treats since our first Christmas in New York five years ago. It’s crispy and dense, and can be laced with an array of hot chocolate fudge sauce to speculoos spread to caramel, to scatterings of strawberries and blobs of ice cream. Our favourite is the s’mores – because if you are going sweet, you might as well go sweetest. 😛
Breezy Hill Orchard
- Dessert must-eat: Ginger snap cookie.
- Budget: Approx $5.
- Short & sweet story: We have blogged before about how much we l-o-v-e ginger cookies. It’s not a popular or common item here in the U.S., as compared to back home in Melbourne or in London. You can find a good rendition over at Bien Cuit, albeit a little tough dark nugget. But our favourite so far encountered in NYC has to be the large flat disc that you can only find during the Christmas season. The Breezy Hill Orchard shop stand offers traditional gingerbread men cookies and apple cider doughnuts, but we love their ginger snap cookie the most. It’s softly chewy, with sweetness cut through with the zinging warmth of the ginger. Love, love, love.
- Dessert must-eat: S’mores Chimney Cone.
- Budget: Approx $15.
- Short & sweet story: The Stackery’s Chimney Cone dessert was a discovery of Christmas 2019. It’s gigantic, highly photogenic, and excruciatingly diabetic. For a detailed description of it, check out our guide to the Best S’Mores Desserts in NYC (see here). We didn’t spot it again this year at the Christmas markets, unfortunately, but do look out for it in 2021.