YOU'LL have to get along to the Sunset Markets on Crawford Street early tonight if you want to taste the delicious cupcake creations hand-made by Canberra-based cupcake queen Natalie Hare.
Her Crafted by Natalie Store has been a staple at the markets for two years now, and her range of different flavoured cupcakes - 42 in total- are usually sold out early in the evening.
It's been an evolving project for Ms Hare. She started out as an apprentice baker at a bakery in Mogo over a decade ago, but since relocating to Canberra, changing jobs and having children, she found she was only baking every now and then.
Cupcakes offered a way back to commercial baking, which she loves, and also an escape from going back to her old job.
"I started up this little business two years ago, and we thought 'we'll just see how it goes,' thinking maybe it would pay the difference between the little bit of maternity payment I was getting and my income. But two years later I'm still at home with my youngest son," she said.
The first place she sold her cupcakes to the public was at the Summer Sunset Markets, and they were a hit.
"I'd have to say Queanbeyan is my favourite markets. It really started me off and introduced me to the Queanbeyan people, who have been so loyal. I do free deliveries out to Queanbeyan now because they're just lovely people," Ms Hare said.
She puts the success of her cupcakes down to the flavour combinations, offering gluten free and vegan options, and reasonable pricing.
"People don't want to pay $5 dollars for a cupcake. They want to go to the markets and have a good time without mortgaging the house. So my cupcakes started out at $2.50 and they've only just gone to $3," she said.
Her latest flavour creation, the snickers cupcake, has been proving a hit with customers, and last week she sold forty in one hour.
"My favourite at the moment would be my new snickers cupcake," Ms Hare said.
"It's a chocolate cupcake filled with caramel and it's almost fudgey and almost gooey, and then it's topped with peanut butter frosting and drizzled with dark chocolate and sprinkled with nuts. You bite into it and the gooey caramel is like a secret surprise inside," she said.
Following on from her success in Queanbeyan, Ms Hare is hopeful she may be able to open a dedicated cupcake store in Queanbeyan next year.
Meanwhile, Queanbeyan City Council cultural development officer Ros Hales said last fortnight's Sunset Markets had been a big success, and she expected another great evening tonight.
"We had 30 stalls at the first market of the season two weeks ago. It was a very pleasurable sight and a great night," Ms Hales said.
"There's several new stallholders there, and more to come this week. Music this Friday is by Soiree, a funky jazz and soul duo," she said.
Visit the Sunset Markets tonight (Friday) from 5pm-8pm outside The Q and Council Chambers on Crawford Street.