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Sweet shop, The Sugar Path, open in Geneva

GENEVA – What do beer and pretzels, Mexican hot chocolate, banana splits and pancakes have in common?

They’re all cupcake flavors at The Sugar Path – a sweet shop that recently opened in downtown Geneva.

Sisters Michelle Adams and Nina Cater – an attorney and former mental health counselor, respectively – started their baking business in November 2011, specializing in cupcakes, artisan cakes and pies with a focus on buying the freshest, local ingredients they can find. They started off selling baked goods at various farmers markets and became so successful that they decided to open a storefront.

Adams said she was raised in Sterling, a city surrounded by farmland where the philosophy was “fresh food is best.” She remembers eating fresh fruits and vegetables from her grandfather’s garden, and she learned to bake with the freshest ingredients as a result.

Starting out at farmers markets helped Cater and Adams create a network of local food vendors who sell fresh, seasonal products, such as apples and pumpkins. Adams said apples come from Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park, and the cream they use comes from a local creamery.

There aren’t many ingredients Adams and Cater would hesitate to turn into a cupcake or pie flavor.

They held a contest over the summer they called the “farm stand cupcake,” where they took a product and turned it into a cupcake flavor.

The competition resulted in a cheese pizza-flavored cupcake and one of the most popular flavors, a wheat berry and beet cupcake.

They have another competition on their Facebook page that allows “friends” to vote for their favorite local small businesses. The winning business gets a batch of cupcakes.

“Local business is extremely important to us,” Adams said.

Their line of baked goods includes “The Sugar Tap,” or alcohol-infused cupcakes; seasonal cupcakes; specialty and signature cupcakes; pies; and artisan cakes. They also carry coffee made by FreshGround Roasting.

Their menu changes weekly, and they bake using the freshest seasonal ingredients. Adams said they want the shop to be a “slow-down destination,” where people can sit and have a slice of pie and coffee.

“That’s one reason we started the business,” she said. “It’s difficult with our lives to slow down and enjoy life. That’s how we grew up around the table. ... When you step into The Sugar Path, it’s a destination.”

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