Food and Drink

A Smart Cookie: this Charlotte-based cancer researcher turned baker just opened her first retail space

Located in Charlotte, A Smart Cookie is a custom-order baking company owned by Monica D. Nye.

On November 1, A Smart Cookie opened its first retail space in Northlake Mall. It’s located in the Macy’s wing, in-between Express and Charlotte Russe. Customers swoon over her cheesecake cookies, sweet potato cakes and cookie sandwiches.

All desserts, pastries and breads are made from scratch and change seasonally. Fall favorites include her bourbon pecan pie bars, oatmeal cookie sandwiches with pumpkin spice buttercream, and gooey pumpkin butter cake.

apple streusel pie
Photo credit: Cassandra Staley & Rebecca Riddle for A Smart Cookie

Originally from Indianapolis, Nye has been living (and baking) in Charlotte since 2015.

She has a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics from the Mayo Clinic, along with post doctoral training from UNC Chapel Hill. Nye additionally thrived in a career as a research assistant professor at UNCC. Even with this impressive academic background, Nye just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something missing in her pursuit of happiness.

“Baked goods have played a major role in my life. I have several memories connected to the desserts I had growing up. It doesn’t seem like the holidays unless there are copious amounts of cookies available for consumption”, laughs Nye.

Ever since she was a child, baking has been one of Nye’s passions. Each Christmas, you could find Nye baking several types of cookies with her mom and sisters. They found great pride in giving these sweet treats as gifts to their friends and family. Eventually, their annual Christmas Eve party turned into a two-week baking-fest just to fulfill demand.

One morning in 2016, Nye woke up feeling as though she could not be in academia for the remainder of her career. After a few months of soul searching, she decided to take a leap of faith and chase after her true passion: owning a dessert company. “Baking is a science, and I love experimenting in the kitchen”, expressed Nye.

Nye is now fulfilling her dream of saving the world, one cookie at a time.

New cookie sandwich alert!!!! Lemon ginger buttercream between two shortbread cookies! . . . . #asmartcookie #gatewayvillage #cookies #cookiemonster #cookiesandwich #buttercream #lemon #ginger #lemonginger #charlotte #clt #farmersmarket

A post shared by Monica D Nye (@_asmartcookie) on Jun 28, 2018 at 8:41am PDT

Nye loves the Charlotte community, and collaborates with local businesses to showcase them in her desserts.

You can taste Doc Porter’s Bourbon in her pecan pies and Three Spirits Brewery‘s Chocolate Oatmeal Stout in the buttercream for her oatmeal cookie sandwiches. “I feel so much more connected to the city of Charlotte since starting my business and building a phenomenal community,” states Nye. 

Hot Chocolate
Photo credit: Cassandra Staley & Rebecca Riddle

In addition to her new retail space, you can find A Smart Cookie at the following locations:

  • NoDa Farmers Market every Saturday at NoDa Company Store from 9am – 12 noon.
  • Monthly cookie and pie pairing with Red Clay Ciderworks.
  • Julia’s cafe and bookstore also carries their cheesecake cookies and gluten-free varieties of their chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies.