Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Cookies bring smiles. Cookies bring joy. Perhaps that is why decorative cookies have become popular at birthdays, graduations, and other celebratory gatherings. Many artistically talented bakers have now found a niche selling this form of edible art.
As is turns out, some of those who produce these iced masterpieces have found making these cookies to be just the right therapy to help them through trying times. Three such cookie artists, Sharon Peters of Binocular Baker in Thunder Bay, Jennifer Nosker of Superior Cookie Co. in Grand Marais, and Lyndsay Smitke of Snazzy Cakes in Duluth, have all gotten involved in decorating cookies as a way of dealing with stressful times in their lives.
Sharon Peters was a low vision specialist at the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. She dealt with the psycho-social aspects of vision loss. To relax after a stressful day at work, she started to bake and decorate cookies. She networks with a number of local cookie artists who say they also create their art as a way of dealing with anxiety. As she puts it, “I can’t do anything else when making cookies.”
What started as a hobby turned into a vocation after she retired. She would bring her cookies to events, and soon people were asking to purchase them. To her, Binocular Baker is more than a business, though. She has taken a keen interest in developing her art. She recently traveled to Toronto to study under Marta Torres. The class was so detailed, and the cookies they made so intricate, that in nine hours she completed just two cookies. She looks at her creations as more like paintings. “It’s taken me to another level,” she says.
Her clients connect with her through her Instagram account, @thebinocularbaker. She offers contactless pick-up. Most clients want sugar cookies with royal icing. Her designs are customized to meet the needs of her clients. She provides cookies for bridal showers, classrooms, graduations, birthday parties, and other special events. Sharon is proud of how far she has come with her craft. As she puts it, “I see things through sugar.”
Jennifer Nosker of Superior Cookie Co. moved to Grand Marais in 2009 after a nasty divorce involving an abusive relationship. She had always been a big baker of cookies for Christmas. She had wanted to go into the cookie business, but her ex-husband declared she had no talent. So she, “buried that dream and set it aside.” Now married to a very supportive husband, her life was looking up until her brother passed in 2019. Then Covid hit, and during that time her father had a stroke. Then this past February, she got up and said, “I’m going to make cookies.” She made a test run on Valentine’s Day and got such positive feedback that she plunged into the business. She has been happily swamped ever since.
She calls her cookie making her therapy. It is lots of fun and a good creative outlet, like an adult coloring book. She finds that she talks to herself and her departed brother. “It’s so creative,” she says, “I didn’t think I had that in me.” And she is so pleased that her efforts bring other people joy.
She takes orders over Facebook and Instagram; you can find her online at Superior Cookie Co. She does what she calls her stock orders of cookies she has designed for holiday events and does custom orders upon request. She makes deliveries in Grand Marais but is unable to ship orders.
Lindsay Smitke started Snazzy Cakes in 2010 while her husband was deployed in the military. She had always been artistic, having created and sold jewelry prior to getting into the baking business. Baking enabled her to stay at home with her kids and provided her with the creative outlet she needed with her husband away.
They moved back to their hometown of Duluth in 2016 after her husband retired from the military. They purchased her grandfather’s house and were able to create her cake studio in an extra room. She was also caring for her elderly father. Smitke says that, “My art is me,” and that through her business the artist within her is fulfilled. Sharing love, sharing happiness through her art has fulfilled so many aspects of her life.
Smitke started creating hand-painted cookies while living the life of a military wife in Texas. Since then, that part of her business has really taken off. Her first order when they moved to Duluth was for 500 cookies. She likes to ice the cookie in white first and use that as her blank canvas. Then she hand-paints a set of cookies with a variety of designs. As with the others, she will customize her designs to her client’s wishes. For example, for birthday cookies she will get as much information on the birthday celebrant and use that to customize her designs. Art and designing cakes and cookies are her identity. Her job brings her peace and the creative outlet she craves.
Smitke takes order through her website, snazzycakesedibleart.com. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has been conducting design appointments via Zoom. She offers contact-free pick-up and will also deliver. “Business is booming,” she says, “The possibilities are limitless.”
The style and creativity that go into the making of these cookies are therapy for the artistic women who make them. Designing cookies provides a creative outlet that brings joy to others. The cookies are made with love, and the artists don’t have to paint the smiles that appear on the faces of those who receive their cookies.