There’s nothing quite like a seasonal snack cake to get you in the holiday spirit, and Little Debbie is always sure to bring the goods. For the Christmas season, Little Debbie’s offerings include:
I tasted them all and have assorted them into a hierarchy of greatness. Here it is.
I like chocolate-covered cherry cordial candies, and I like what Little Debbie is going for here in trying to approximate those candies in snack cake form. But it fails in the execution, and as such, this snack cake is not for me.
The first bite reminds me too much of a Luden’s Cough Drop—something a lot of cherry-flavored things have to overcome, and not all manage to. Overall, the experience just isn’t something I would keep coming back for, much less find myself craving.
This structure of snack cake is one of Little Debbie’s most winning approaches: two layers of cake with filling in between them, covered in a shell of decorated icing and sprinkles. However, the combination of chocolate cake, chocolate filling, and chocolate icing just isn’t working for me. There isn’t enough contrast between the elements, and everything grows a little muddled.
Little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies are a perennial crowd-pleaser, and these little trees—the cutest of all the seasonal holiday options—are essentially the same thing, with a tapered shape, green icing, and the little candies on top serving as tiny ornaments. In general a Little Debbie brownie is always a win for me, and these are an excellent version of a classic.
If you take all the candies off the Christmas Tree Brownie, which I did as a child (and witnessed my own child doing the other day), you end up with something that has a smooth bite all the way through—essentially, you end up with a Snowflake Brownie. I rank the Snowflake Brownie slightly higher for a few reasons. First, I think they’re legitimately pretty, with a snowy white icing on top and an intricate shape stamped into it. Second, it’s one of the only snacks in the lineup that brands itself a “winter” treat instead of a “Christmas” treat (though it does have Santa on the box). And third, neither you nor your children have to bother with picking all those little candies off. They just don’t add that much;
Though my mom bought these for me as a kid, I completely forgot about them until I was conducting this tasting—and I was pleasantly surprised when I took a bite. They’ve got just the right blend of ginger and molasses to taste like a superb gingerbread cookie, and they’re soft in a perfect way. They’re also not too sickeningly sweet. I feel comfortable throwing one in my daughter’s lunch box for a little pop of festive fun that isn’t so sweet she’ll be bouncing off the walls all afternoon.
When I ranked all of Little Debbie’s fall snack cake offerings, the Vanilla Fall Party Cakes, which are essentially the same as these Christmas Tree Cakes (as are the year-round Zebra Cakes and Fancy Cakes) weren’t my top choice. In the winter lineup, though, they come out on top.
In really thinking about their flavor and why they seem so appropriate for the season, I realized that these cakes taste like petit fours, which my mom used to buy around Christmas time and were little cakes covered in an icing similar to this one. So these win in the sneaky nostalgia department for me, and perhaps for you too. Beyond that, though, they’re just the perfect bite, full of sweetness but nothing that will bog you down. Plus, they’ve got that subtle saltiness that makes the Zebra Cake one of my year-round favorites.