By Maureen Post Special to Published Dec 14, 2009 at 3:53 PM

 There’s no question, in addition to home-cooked traditional holiday meals, this time of the year is all about dessert. Whether you’re looking to give cookies, cakes and pies as gifts, need a sweet to take to a dinner party or just have an itch to dig in on some sugar filled goodness, the question of baking versus buying always arises.

There are pros and cons to both. Buying is at times more expensive but you’re guaranteed a scrumptious product and you’ll save hours of in-kitchen work time. On the other hand, if you bake, you can make your family’s traditional favorites just the way they like them, often for less cost. But, plan to devote hours to mixing, baking and frosting.

La Tarte Bakery and Café in Wauwatosa has opted to bake for the last 19 years. Storing secret apple, pecan, cranberry walnut and chocolate pie recipes, they’ll fill orders for cookies, pies and of course their signature Yule Log all holiday season. So, no matter which side of the fence you come down on, here are a few expert suggestions for baking or buying from La Tarte Owner and Baker Merry Turner.

1. If you’re going to have the calories, make sure they’re good. That means real butter and the best chocolate.

2. The holidays are a hectic time of year. Prepare by baking ahead of time and freezing cookies until the holiday.

3. Place your order for holiday pies and cookies as soon as you can.

4. Every family has their own family favorites they remember from growing up. Stick to your own tradition.

5. La Tarte sells holiday cookies in a one pound gift box. This is a good gage for knowing how much to give.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.