Several months ago, a man named Jacob Chapman left Channel Awesome and put up a Kickstarter for the first game that he and his newly formed video game development company created, Pango Dango.
The game was called Lovely Little Thieves.
On that Kickstarter was a 3 hour long demo for the game.
That demo did not work on my laptop because it’s old as shit, so I watched a Let’s Play on youtube instead.
I was enamored.
I donated to the Kickstarter through my credit card but switched credit cards during the donation period and didn’t update my info because I thought my card was already charged but–
The point is that I loved the game, and I needed to make a fan-something of it. Fanfiction? Hell no, I’m bogged down with enough fanfiction. Fanart? Nah, I’ve never been very good at making fanart. Cosplay? I’m too cheap to go to conventions anymore. Still, I had to show my love of this game somehow, someway. Suddenly it hit me as I was watching an episode of Nerdy Nummies: fanbaking.
So welcome to The Giddy Owl Bakery’s first series of fanbaking cupcakes. First up: Russell.
Let me introduce you all to Russell: all-American boy, football player, and our main character Dawn’s first boyfriend. He gets carrot cake with cream cheese, not just because he’s a red head, but also because carrot cake with cream cheese is a popular, normal cupcake. Since Russell comes off as a popular, normal guy, this cupcake represents him perfectly!
Well, not quite perfectly.
Our popular, normal guy unfortunately has a short fuse and a big temper when he’s under pressure. To match his fiery temper, we need something spicy and something that goes really well with carrot cake. We need ginger jam. Don’t worry about buying the ginger jam, because we’re going to make it! I find a lot of jams way too sweet, so it’s better to make it yourself.
Seeing as I am just your average home baker, I do what every home baker does and take a recipe from someone more competent than I and add slight changes to it. Here’s the recipes I used and where I got them from:
Carrot Cake: Good Eats by Alton Brown
Cream Cheese Frosting: Miette (print cookbook) by Meg Ray
Ginger Jam: Nigella Lawson
Here I’ll list down what you need and bold ingredients that I changed:
6 medium-ish carrots (I use organic because I think it tastes better)
12 oz of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cardamom (original: allspice)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz sugar
2 oz dark brown sugar
6 oz plain yogurt
6 oz vegetable oil
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1 lb cream cheese (this recipe I’m using Philadelphia because everyone likes it. Try organic if you like something tangier. I hate cream cheese so it doesn’t matter to me either way.)
5 1/2 oz (or 11 tbsp) of unsalted butter, room temperature (I use Kerrygold)
5 1/2 oz (or 1 cup) sifted powdered sugar
3/4 cup of freshly peeled ginger
1 apple (recipe called for Granny Smith but I only had Red Delicious)
150 ml of sugar (recipe called for 250 and that just looked way too sweet, especially since I was using a sweeter apple)
250 ml water
Once you’ve got everything, let’s get this mad experiment going.
Food processor with multipurpose blade and grating blade (or a hand mixer and grater)
Large bowl (or two if you don’t feel like washing)
Sterilized small canning jar with lid and seal
Saucepan or pot tall enough to fit canning jar plus 1″ of water covering it
Cupcake liners (I went with Spiderman today)
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
Cut up butter and leave out so it’ll be room temperature by the time you need it
Line your cupcake tray
Peel your carrots and ginger (Tip: save your plastic produce bags and keep one by your cutting board for peelings, cuttings, and trash instead of spending $20 on a garbage bowl that you’ll have to wash).
Put jar in tall saucepan/pot, fill with water until it covers about 1″ (if possible) over the jar, boil, and let it simmer while your doing everything else. Just keep an eye and refill with water if need be.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER:
Chop the peeled ginger in sizable chunks and put in food processor with the multipurpose blade.
Cut the apple into quarters and throw that in with the ginger.
Pulse until roughly chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, chop or grate the ginger and apple and put it in the medium saucepan.
Put sugar and water in the saucepan and bring it to a simmer, letting it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until slightly thickened. While the jam’s brewing, you can get to work on the carrot cake.
Clean the food processor, slap on the grater, and grate all the carrots (low speed for thicker cuts, high for thin.)
Clean the food processor, dry thoroughly, slap on the multipurpose blade and blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices for five seconds.
Pour flour mixture on carrots and coat thoroughly (the carrots will clump up, especially the finer cuts, so make sure every bit is coated)
Clean the food processor and put in the yogurt–
Eggs, sugar, and dark brown sugar.
Combine on low, drizzling the oil as it combines.
Pour the mixture with the carrots and fold GENTLY until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into each cup, filling a little over 2/3 of the cup.
As for time, here’s where things get a bit tricky. Set your timer for 18 minutes and check the cupcakes, both for a golden brown, puffy top and for a clean wooden toothpick when the cake is poked with one in the center of the cup. If the toothpick is not clean, let bake for another 2 minutes. Check the center with a tooth pick and bake for 1 minute if not clean. Check again. If there are a couple of crumbs on the toothpick, let bake for 30 secs and check, because it should be clean and you need to take it out IMMEDIATELY or you will dry out your cake. I say this because some ovens run hot, some run cold, so it’s better to just be paranoid and check a little early than to run the risk of drying out your cake.
Basically, this is the color you’re looking for:
Let the cupcakes sit in the pan for a minute before putting them on the rack to cool.
The jam should be done at this point and looking a little something like this:
With the jam still simmering, turn off the heat with the boiling jar. Carefully take out jar with tongs and put on a potholder.
Turn off heat from the ginger jam and pour into jar.
Take your lid and seal and–
Seeing as we’re using the jam now anyway, we don’t need to seal it like you would if you were saving it for later.
Hold strong, we’re almost done! Time to make frosting.
Whip the butter and the powdered sugar with the hand mixer until it looks whipped.
Throw in the cream cheese into the butter mixture and whip until combined.
Take your now cooled cupcake and a paring knife. Cut out a little cone inside the cake, about midway through the cake and at a 45 degree angle. Fill with ginger jam.
Take your cream cheese frosting and either put it in a pastry bag or a medium sized Ziploc bag. I emphasize on the medium size bag because I used the large bag and basically made a mess. So what I did was scoop some frosting, pile it on the center, and pulled the frosting down in a circle.
But when you cut it in half:
What you end up with is a fragrant, chewy, moist carrot cake that complements the spicy-sweet ginger jam filling perfectly. The rich, slightly sweet cream cheese helps tone down the ginger so it doesn’t overpower the spices in the carrot cake (at least, that what my best friend and my karate friend taste testers told me, since they like cream cheese and I don’t). It’s traditional carrot cake with a punch that you won’t be forgetting anytime soon, much like our hot-headed Russell.
I hope you enjoyed this and the other Pango Dango cupcakes I’ll be working on. Hopefully with better lighting next time.