As the weather in LA dips to a chilly fifty-eight
My tummy develops a craving that just can’t wait
Up the long hill and around the bend
Lies a buffet of holiday treats that will not end
With glowing lights, fresh garlands, and a magnificent tree
Universal Studios Hollywood is decked out for you and me
And while I love the festive music and sparkling decor
My true excitement is for the delicious feast in store
S’mores, cookies, a butterscotch pudding jar
Pumpkin spiced treats and black forest cake are—
On the extensive list of what I will be trying today
Not to mention all the beverages heading my way
Seventy-six delectable treats and drinks abound
So read on and I will show you where my favorites are found…
Not well-versed in discerning poetry? The TL;DR is: it’s Holidays at Universal Studios Hollywood and I’ve got everything you need to know about the must-try treats for your next sensationally scrumptious visit! I was even able to sample these treats alongside some of Universal’s executive chefs to find out the best of the best.
Rising out of a festively decorated Universal Plaza, is the iconic Grinchmas tree and the entrance of Who-ville and the epicenter of Who—licious treats. Within Who-ville and meet and greet opportunities with The Grinch, Max and the Whos are several delicious food stands, each with unique offerings and beverages to match.
Kicking off with a trio of SUPER cute, decorated cookies:
Snow Globe Cookie
Executive Chef Julia Thrash shared that each of these adorable desserts are frosted and decorated by hand — astounding to me that my snow globe is truly a unique snowflake of a sugar cookie!!
Gingerbread Who-Ville Tree Cookie
This is personally my favorite and a not-to-miss holiday gift (if it doesn’t get eaten before you leave the park). The Who-ville Tree is a perfectly spiced gingerbread cookie, delicately balanced between being soft and chewy and a gingersnap, bedecked with holiday decorations. It is as crooked as the Grinch’s finger and as adorable as Max’s uni-antler.
Rounding out the treat trifecta is your own holiday Minion in cookie form. Clad in his tiny Santa hat, I wasn’t quite sure if he was dressed for festive frivolity or holiday hijinks.
In keeping with Universal Studios’ world-renowned jumbo donuts, this year we have not one but two huge holiday offerings. It’s not hard to miss the massive Grinch Face or Chocolate Wreath Donuts dominating the dessert case. Each measures an incredible 7 inches in diameter and weighs an astounding one pound (yes, Chef Julia and I pulled out a scale to measure!). In the spirit of the holidays — and because there is a LOT more deliciousness in the park — please share with friends and family!
Moving from the biggest items to the most portable: the Black Forest Cake and Butterscotch Pudding Jars. These super cute desserts are great examples of the overall theme for this year’s holiday foods; Chef Julia shared that her overarching goal is to celebrate the classic holiday favorites. And, while the adorable jars come with lids to take them home, I highly doubt there will be any left once you have dug in!
The Black Forest Cake Jar is a delicious affair with spongy and moist cake layered below light and fluffy whipping cream. Punching through those decadent flavors is a blast of tart cherry offsetting the sweetness and ensuring that you will crave just-one-more-bite until the delightful end.
The Butterscotch Pudding Jar is a creamy sweet dream. It is the favorite dessert of both Chef Julia and Chef Eddy Kim as it indulges your sweet tooth with rich and silky butterscotch pudding, light and fluffy whipped cream, and graham cracker crumble. It is a master class in layering as each bite fills your mouth with all three flavors and textures.
Limited-Time Grinch Popcorn Bucket
Nothing says holidays more than a smiling (smirking?) Grinch filled to the brim with delicious popcorn. This adorable, limited-edition bucket comes complete with a festive red and green shoulder strap for easy carrying and convenient snacking. Did you even celebrate Grinchmas if you didn’t take home a Grinch??
Three Hot Chocolates, Piping
Pairing well with all of the aforementioned desserts are three flavors of piping hot chocolate. For those classically inclined, the Original Hot Chocolate comes with a jumbo marshmallow luxuriously floating in his hot tub of molten chocolate goodness.
Th S’mores Hot Chocolate adds an extra sweetness to the beverage and also comes with a chocolate dipped marshmallow.
Finally, my favorite, the Peppermint Hot Chocolate rings in the season, taking me back to my childhood days of stirring my hot cocoa with a candy-cane. The light notes of peppermint are delicious, and it is paired with an adorable floating peppermint marshmallow.
Let it be known that while I love desserts, I love love desserts with surprises inside.
The Pumpkin Spice Cupcake is one of those aforementioned love love desserts. It is a sizable pumpkin spiced cake base with delicious frosted cream, complete with an adorable gingerbread man on top. SPOILER ALERT: Nestled inside of this cozy treat is a gooey caramel center that oozes out with every bite. The stickiness of the caramel keeps the moist cake together and the frosted cream adds the perfect amount of sweetness to the overall bite.
Chocolate lovers fear not — for you we have the S’mores Cupcake. Equally as moist with rich chocolate cake, topped with a light cream frosting and crunchy cookie crumbles.
And inside of this cocoa delight lies a center of marshmallow filling – thick and sticky enough to warrant a fork and knife.
Save Room for Dinner
If you saved any room after the extensive list of treats, our amazing culinary team has cooked up several truly spectacular epicurean delights.
Bread Bowls for Days
An iconic favorite is returning like the ghost of Christmas past. Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl can be found at the City Snack Shop, Mel’s Diner and Jurassic Café. This creamy chowder is chock full of clams and potatoes and is in a delicious sourdough bowl.
New to the event this year is the Harvest Stew. Also found at the City Snack Shop, Mel’s Diner and Jurassic Café, this is going to be a fan favorite — whether you’re vegan or not! Served again in a sourdough bread bowl, the stew is a hearty blend of onions, carrots, red potatoes, peas, and mushrooms.
Perfectly flavorful with a light kick at the end, both soups warmed my stomach and soul. These two are the can’t-miss items of the season according to Chef Eddy, so be sure to stop by and grab a bowl or two.
Roasted Chicken & Brie Croissant
Continuing with Chef Julia’s flavors of the holiday showcase, this roasted chicken and brie sandwich comes tucked into a buttery fresh croissant and is filled with stuffing, arugula and topped with cranberry aioli. Biting into this elevated take on the post-holiday, leftover sandwich, you can really taste the fresh chicken, stuffing and melted creamy brie mixing with the sweet and tart notes of the cranberry aioli. The topping of arugula gives it just a hint of fresh spice that really steps the whole affair up a few notches!
The best part is that this sandwich is served warmed at the French St. Bistro, or if you are in a rush to catch Cindy-Lou Who’s story time, you can grab a to-go chilled version from the cooler case. Both are the favs of Chef Julia and are a holiday celebration for your mouth!
Holiday Popcorn Chicken & Waffle
One of the most surprisingly delicious dishes this year is the new Holiday Popcorn Chicken and Waffles. Served alongside salted, crinkle-cut fries, this unique plate again bursts with holiday flavors, starting with a mound of battered, crispy chicken bites topping a delectable waffle made of stuffing. Pork rinds provide an extra crunch to the top and the whole dish is drizzled with gravy and a tart cranberry sauce. This innovative, epicurean delight kept my mouth watering for just one more flavorful and texture-rich bite!
The Grinch’s Heart
I saved the best for last. The Grinch’s Heart is THE show-stopping, eye-catching, social-posting toast of the season!
Available for both old and young Whos and featured prominently across Grinchmas, it is a limited-edition libation magnificent enough for even Mayor Augustus MayWho! Mature Whos can enjoy an awfully wicked blend of vodka and melon liqueur, mixed with lemon and pineapple juice. A snickering splash of Sprite adds a dash of carbonation to the beverage and the resulting garishly green goblet is finished with a red sugar rim and a skewer of three candy hearts.
For younger Whos, the Grinch’s Heart Mocktail is a tantalizingly tart green apple lemonade served with jellies and three candy hearts — one for each size the Grinch’s formerly small heart grew… aw.
But that my dear readers is just but a taste
Of the festive foods that can’t go to waste
Be sure to come visit Universal Studios Hollywood
Before this year’s holiday celebration is gone for good
These and many more tasty treats await right here
Now available through the First of the New Year.