By Madoline Markham
Photos by Danielle Clark
Scrolling through Danielle Clark’s Instagram feed is like walking through a virtual exhibit for edible art for every occasion you can think of. There are iced cookies that look like bottles and onesies in emerald green with gold accents for a baby shower, carrots and the number one for a Peter Rabbit-inspired birthday, and a set of intricate flower designs for Mother’s Day
Come Valentine’s Day there are cookies that look like pizzas that can be packaged with the greeting, “You have a pizza my heart” and baseball-shaped cookies with the message, “You’re a great catch.” For later in the year, she’s made tennis balls, graduation caps and white cookies with the words “And so the adventure begins” for the Helena High School Tennis Team Senior Night, red cookies with white letters that read “Wildcats” for Shelby County High School homecoming and volleyballs with “Good Luck” in red letters for tryouts at Thompson High School.
Often you might not know just how personable her cookies designs are without their back story either. For example, for a 60th birthday, the customer told her the birthday girl loves the color blue, everything girly and sparkly, and scotch, so Danielle created a monochromic theme with different hues of blue with birthday candles, an abstract scotch glass and the birthday girl’s name.
As to the cookies themselves, they have a softer bite cookie and softer icing—not like the crunchy version you sometimes get with royal icing—and a vanilla-almond flavor profile. Around Valentine’s Day she also brings out a chocolate cookie that’s a hybrid between a cookie and a brownie that comes with equally intricate icing art.
During the day, though, Danielle wears a different hat as a full-time pediatric nurse, so all of her baking happens on nights and weekends. She likes that while nursing uses one side of her brain, her cookie art uses her creative side that embraced paint and canvases when she was in high school and nursing school. “Being a nurse can be stressful, and cooking is a good creative outlet and destressor,” she says.
Fittingly, her baking all started when she was in nursing school and would scroll through Instagram and see pretty sugar cookies as a way to procrastinate studying. And then when a baby shower for her best friend was coming up a few years ago, she decided to give them a try. The cookies were a hit, and everyone around her said she needed to start making them regularly. And with that—plus many sessions of trial and error and tips from other bakers online—Snaps and Snacks was born a home cookie bakery based out of her Calera home where she also showcases her photography.
Most weeks Danielle’s baking process starts on Monday night with making sugar cookies. On Tuesday she mixes up royal icing in all the colors and consistencies she needs and “floods” the cookies with their base color of icing. After that base layer sets overnight, on Wednesday she creates the artistic details on each bottle, cactus or baseball, and after that layer sets, she heat seals them in bags so they can stay fresh for up to two weeks and are ready for delivery.
As to the cookie designs themselves, she uses a program called Procreate on her iPad to draw the designs in advance to make sure each set of cookie art is cohesive. Most of the letter she freehands, but for a particular font sometimes she’ll use a projector.
Once Danielle had mastered the art of cookie icing, she moved on to her next challenge: macarons. “I always thought they were e such a beautiful, delicate thing, but making them had always scared me,” she says. She started by sharing her macarons with people at work and soon they were a part of her business as well.
While with cookies she gets to be creative with their icing art, with macarons, the creativity comes in their endless variety of flavors.
For Easter she made a box with marshmallow peep, lemon, strawberry cheesecake and carrot cake macarons. Come fall she made an apple pie and salted caramel, and she purchased a blow torch to give the marshmallow cream inside the s’mores macaron an authentic flavor—before she dipped them in chocolate and topped them with graham cracker pieces. Then for Thanksgiving she introduced not only a cranberry and a pecan pie but also a cornbread. As of Christmas, she was experimenting with gingerbread, peppermint mocha, hot chocolate plus one that would remind people of a Little Debbie Christmas cake.
Be it for iced cookies or macarons, Snap and Snacks is a one-woman operation, with Danielle, fielding orders and customer communication, photographing her cookies and marketing them. But it’s work that brings her great joy as she watches ideas come to life in the sweetest way.
Follow Danielle’s cookie designs at @snaps_and_snacks_ on Instagram. You can also find a link to her order form in her Instagram profile.