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LAST BEST PLATES

Baking you happy one creative cupcake at a time!

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I’m addicted to cupcakes. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I can mow through four to six at one setting — either frosted or unfrosted. I’m even more ashamed to confess I can put down cupcake batter like no one’s business. That said, I was stopped dead in my tracks with Marin Blandon’s cupcakes. They are beautiful works of art too gorgeous to eat. Well almost! I stared at six tempting treats on my counter for a day, then carefully picked one out and ever so slowly licked the frosting petals.

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Marin is the creator and owner of Sugar Happy Cupcakes, located in a small tidy shop in Kalispell. She was born in Alberta and holds dual citizenship. Her husband, Mike, is originally from Salt Lake City. The couple was living out east but moved to Montana with their three boys to be closer to family. Kalispell has proven to be their ideal location to take advantage of the many outdoor opportunities found in our state.

Marin’s creativity has always been part of her DNA. She worked as both a hairdresser for 20 years, as well as being a passionate photographer. “Doing hair — that was a creative way to express myself,” she said. When they moved to the Flathead Valley, and with her kids all in school, Marin was ready to try something new. She looked around the area to see what the community needed. She knew feeding her artistic drive was critical and came up with the idea of a sweet shop. Sugar Happy Cupcakes sprung to life.

Marin is self-taught in terms of cake decorating. “It’s big in the UK. I watched YouTube videos for two months and did lots of experimenting,” she said. No doubt her family were the lucky recipients of her trial and error in the frosting department. At first, she was operating out of her home, but on March 1, 2021, she opened her storefront. Marin’s husband is a dentist. “We jokingly said we should have our businesses side by side, then I could send my customers over to Mike, and vice versa.”

For now, the cupcakes come in two flavors, chocolate and vanilla. The recipe for the vanilla version is from Marin’s sister, while the chocolate cupcake is a creation of her own. More flavors will be added, including lemon, red velvet, chocolate peanut butter, and salted caramel. The buttercream frosting is Marin’s invention. She has expanded her sweet treats to include made-from-scratch cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chip, sugar, snickerdoodle, and cookies and cream are current choices.

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Marin’s imagination runs the gamut with the frosting embellishments, with flowers being her specialty. There are sunflowers, roses, peonies, and my favorite, a mini garden of succulents. The frosting colors are more varied than a box of Crayola crayons. She has created owls, teddy bears, a fishing pole (pretzel) hooked to a Swedish fish, and a campfire-colored swirl of frosting with pretzel logs and two mini-marshmallows on a toothpick. Naturally, the holidays get a luscious treatment — from shamrocks for St. Patty’s, chicks and Easter eggs for Easter, the American flag, and Christmas trees for celebrating in December.

Most of her business involves custom orders — weddings, celebrations, holidays, baby showers, and corporate meetings. But with a new storefront, anyone can stop by for a bite of sweet goodness. Marin tailor’s the decorations to a customer’s request. Cupcakes are a unique way to say “Happy Birthday” or “I love you.” She has perfected the art of a cupcake bouquet, which makes for a unique edible gift. I would prefer her cupcake bouquet to fresh flowers any day!

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A future goal would be to open additional stores in other Montana communities, such as Missoula and Bozeman. For now, Sugar Happy Cupcakes isn’t able to ship, but it’s worth a drive to Kalispell to pick up these delectable works of art. The cupcakes have a shelf life of three days. My six treats made it two days, and I shared one with my hubby and son, so I was only guilty of consuming four. Marin’s tagline, “baking you happy,” worked for me!

Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 after a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.

TheLastBestPlates.com is a digital destination that serves up Montana's tasty food, travel and culture stories … one bite at a time.

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