By Jasmine Jones
Samantha Myers has baked cookies since she was a child growing up in Puxico, Mo., but a little more than a year ago, she started experimenting with cookie art and sharing her designs on social media. In August 2022, she officially launched her custom-order cookie business, The Sweeter Side. When Myers isn’t tediously icing cookies, she is using her knowledge as a dietician to provide nutrition support for area patients and spending time with her family.
Here, Myers answers questions about her art.
What originally got you interested in baking?
My grandma. She didn’t have a business with baking, but she would bake for local restaurants and sometimes for family gatherings. She’d do cakes, she’d do cookies, she’d do pumpkin rolls.
So, she handed down her mixer to me when she was no longer cooking, and all of her recipes. As a little girl, I remember baking with her and her teaching me tips and tricks and [telling me] why her recipes worked. [She’d say,] “There’s this little thing that’s not included in the recipe; [you have] to be sure and add it.” It’s the little thing that makes it work, these little secrets that don’t get written down. So, she taught me to bake by taste and feel, not just by following the recipe.
How do you mesh your love for sweets with dietetics and nutrition?
Whenever I do nutrition counseling, I thoroughly believe that we should enjoy our food. The word “diet” is kind of like a curse word in nutrition. As dieticians, we really do believe to have a balanced diet, you should be able to enjoy all the different food groups in moderation.
What is a vital tool for decorating cookies?
Typically, once I sketch out my design that I want, then I will take a picture of the cookie design, and I would project that with my mini projector onto the cookie, and then you just go in layers [with the icing]. … So, the projector for sure. ‘Cause I could not draw [my cookie designs] without it, and most cookie artists would say that they live and die by their projector. That’s the unfortunate thing. If that cookie projector went down, it would be awful.
How do you make such specific icing colors for your cookies?
If you want to make a color darker, you put a teeny-tiny black [food color drop] in the bowl. It actually changes the color quite a bit. Sometimes, it’s taking a toothpick and just dipping a little bit into the color, so it just slightly alters the full bowl. So, you have to be very careful. Sometimes, I’ll even put it in a separate bowl, so that I make sure I don’t add too much [color] to the full bowl.
The process of mixing colors sounds tedious. How long does that process usually take?
Typically, for a given set [of colors], if there’s four colors, it takes me about two to three hours just to mix the colors. If there’s two colors, it might only take me an hour, and that’s not even including the time it takes to mix the icing itself. … There was a cookie design that I did that had a landscape in it, and I bet it took me about five hours to mix all of the colors. Yes, it’s outrageous. But it was definitely worth it in the end.
Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned from it.
If you don’t wait long enough for the bottom layer of icing to dry, and you put a top layer on it, it actually messes up all the icing. It might flood into other colors. To get the right texture and layering, you have to wait for layers to dry. I did try a cookie design once, where I waited too long [for the icing to dry], and the bottom layer was completely dry, so when I did the next layer, there were holes all in the icing, which is called cradering.
Why is it important to create?
I think we tend to see what everyone else is doing, because we’re such a social media-focused world, and so sometimes, we put ourselves inside of a box. We think that what we create isn’t good enough. We think it’s not something that social media would accept.
But I think, oftentimes, if we just created what we want to create, it would be a very unique and beautiful design. It’s just, a lot of times, we don’t create, because we’re fearful of what everyone else will think of our creativity. I personally fall into that box often, of wondering what everybody else is going to think about my designs. But the important part is to be creative. We’re created to be creative beings.