One of my current (and possibly most long-standing) projects is Regency Love, an interactive novel/skill-based role-playing game set in Jane Austen’s time, available for iOS (iPhone/iPad/iPod touch). I’m the game’s lead writer (perhaps a wee misnomer, since I’m also the only writer XD), and I started the indie game-dev company with two amazing ladies (Jenny and Melody) back in April 2011, a few months before I left for the UK. Although we did our initial brain-storming in person at Mel’s place (our HQ!), helped along by lots of delicious food (primarily provided by Mel), most of the collaborative work happened while I was overseas. I was previously in Sydney last September, and since then, we’ve completed and launched Regency Love 2.0, which, among other shinies, contains a full story arc for a gentleman named Mr Graham.
We wanted to do something to celebrate the release, and, being rather food-minded, we wanted the celebration to be nomtastic. As a bit of a cake glutton, I suggested gentlemen-themed cupcakes for the evening, and threw a few suggestions at Mel. Ever so obliging, Mel agreed to turn her kitchen into a mini bakery for a portion of the evening, and we decided to meet as soon as I was done with my crazy lazy lunch at Sepia.
I was a touch more bubbly than usual, and practically glomped Mel upon arrival–understandable, I’d hope, since I’d not seen my lovely co-conspirator for over a year. (The 10 glasses of wine may have helped.) Mel had a shopping list prepared, so we hit the local supermarket, and I did a very good job of carrying the basket and achieving my weekly arm exercise.
We’d also received our first bit of fan present, in the form of chocolates (yay!). Mmm, chocolate…
Although we had a vague idea of how to create the cupcake flavours, we mostly winged it. After the three of us finished the Twitter live-chat and were happily full from Mel’s delicious dinner, we got cracking with the cupcakes. Mel used two cupcake recipes, one plain and one chocolate, and I started fiddling with the frostings and toppings. We ended up with a flavour each for the following six characters:
Lord Fat Cat
Jen came up with the idea of marshmallows for this venerable figure, and Mel used her bake!hack of plopping the fluffy goodness onto still-hot muffins until they melted and stuck to the muffins. And of course, being an embodiment of the epic Lord Fat Cat, the marshmallows continued to melt and slide around everywhere… Yes, m’lord, we do indeed acknowledge and bow to your awesomeness.
I thought blueberries would be a lovely representation of Mr Ashcroft’s eyes, and Mel developed on that idea and suggested we could have for him the blueberry crumbles that are, in Mel’s words, “a warm family favourite.” Once the muffin had cooled, we piped on some cream-cheese icing and topped them with blueberries, while the crumbly muffin made up the “crumble” part of the cupcake. Hey, we do our best with what we’ve got. ;)
Time for my favouritest of them all! I initially thought of lemon and limes, which match the tartness of his personality, but my sister Wendy went a step further and suggested lemon, lime, and bitters. Apparently that’s an “Australian” soft drink drink (consisting of lemonade, lime juice/syrup, and Angostura bitters), but in this case, we though the name and contents were perfect for Mr Curtis. Mel then took things even further(er?) and filled the muffins with lemony and limey syrup, before we topped the cupcakes with icing containing lemon and lime zest and a few drops of Angostura bitters. (Needless to say, he was absolutely delicious!)
By far our sweetest and squishiest gentleman, Mr Graham was definitely strawberries and cream, with the vivid red also representing his uniform quite nicely. We could eat these cupcakes all day (as can Mr Graham, I’m sure), and remain calm, content, and happy (just like our good-natured Mr Graham).
After Mr Graham’s comforting vanilla, strawberries, and cream, we needed the rich indulgence of a triple chocolate cupcake for Lord Sutton. (This has no correlation whatsoever with my chocoholism.) Mel baked a separate batch of chocolate muffins, and we topped those with dark chocolate frosting (cocoa powder for extra intensity) and a mixture of what remained from our Kit Kats: rose petals, dark chocolate brownie bits, and caramelised meringue. Okay, so we improvised, but that pretty much reflects our creative process. ;)
Our loltastic improvisation was really evident in Mr Digby’s cupcake, which was supposed to be just vanilla and whipped cream topped with a sprig of mint, and which was the final gentleman cupcake to be completed. But after an unnamed individual accidentally overwhipped the cream, we had a mild panic fest, and dug around in Mel’s fridge and cupboards for an alternative. In the end, we used up the tiny bit of whipped cream we had leftover, then added to it some coconut cream and way too much (or not enough?) butter. The result? Heavenly. Oh, Mr Digby, how you continue to surprise us!
(We also tried Mr Digby’s frosting on Lord Sutton’s chocolate muffins, and IT WAS ALL KINDS OF AMAZEBALLS. Don’t want to think too much about the meta implications, though, because I must learn that whatever I write is canon, so I’m not allowed to ship everyone under the Darlington sun.)
And so, by the end of the evening, we were left with this:
And then we ate cake and all was well.