We’re not here to judge. It doesn’t matter why the much-hyped Saturday baking party didn’t happen, and there’s no use pointing out that the holidays sneak up like this every year. Right now we need to problem-solve: You want a treat that looks and tastes special — not like you just remembered dessert as you were pulling on your holiday hosiery or searching for your Clark Griswold novelty tie. Sure, a Whole Foods or Central Market pie will work in a pinch — they’re delicious, and Whole Foods is open until 7 p.m. Christmas Eve, Central Market until 8 p.m. But everyone will know where you got it. Here are a few sweet party savers with a more personal touch. Please remember: It’s most definitely first-come, first-serve this week; don’t take out your party panic on anyone who’s working. — Elaine Wolff
You can order from Liberty Bar’s justly famous pie and cake menu as late as the evening of December 23 for the Christmas holiday (even very early on the morning of the 24th, said Chef Oscar Trejo, although you must pick up your dessert before they close at 2 p.m.). The coconut cake is a white-Christmas dream, and the pecan pie the best in town, but they’ll also whip up a mincemeat pie for traditionalists. Pies: $18-$22; Cakes: $38
It’s too late to pre-order a Bûche de Noël or Chocolate Mousse Cake ($28-$40) from Damien Watel’s charming Olmos Park pastry shop, but staff told us they would have some on hand this week for walk-ins. If they’re out of Bûche — a traditional rolled sponge-cake dessert filled with buttercream and frosted to look like Yule log — consider a cheese tart or a plate of Bistro’s decadent almond and chocolate croissants. In charge of Christmas breakfast? Pick up a mushroom quiche. Open until 2 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Janie’s Pie Factory
Procrastinators will be met with discouraging news at Janie’s — she’s been booked weeks out with orders for her homey, hefty pies, cobblers, and casseroles. You can drop by just before closing on the 23rd (4 p.m.) and 24th (noon), to see if anyone forgot to pick up an order, but they’re not producing any overage for walk-ins, and you probably won’t be the only hopeful poacher. Better idea: Place an order for a New Year’s Day pie (the Current’s getting blueberry), and plan ahead for next year. They’re open until noon December 31. $14-$30, depending on size and order.
Beto’s Comida Latina
Want something savory instead? Pick up a package of Beto’s handmade tamales — chicken poblano or spicy beef — for $8.99/dozen. You’ve missed the pre-order deadline here, too, but they’re making extras for latecomers, and they’ll have mini-empanadas in stock, too (great finger-food dessert for cocktail parties). Open until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
We’d call this a desperation move — even if you take it out of the box and serve it on a crystal platter (just one idea!), folks will probably guess where this tower of sugar power came from — but the Cheesecake Factory’s 30th Anniversary Cake is delicious and very holiday: rich chocolate-fudge cake layered with original cheesecake, topped with chocolate swirls. We also recommend Stefanie’s Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake; it looks like Christmas itself with those stripes of dense red velvet between the creamy cheesecake. Best of all, they’re open until 11 p.m. Christmas Eve, and they’re expecting you. $25 for a 7-inch cake; $50 for a 10-inch. Stefanie’s is only available in the large size, but approximately $3 from each cake sold goes to the Feeding America hunger-relief program. •