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3 questions with Andy Jackson, cupcake maker 

Charlotte native Andy Jackson, the bearded baker behind FuManChu CupCakes, has been busy grooming a new world of cupcakes. His unusually flavored combinations (take, for instance, the French toast cupcake with a sausage interior and maple frosting or the Celtic salted caramel cupcake with caramel filling and salted caramel frosting topped with bacon) are risky, yet tasty enough to send foodies flocking to disclosed locations for a bite. Jackson launched the confectionery revolution a few months ago after realizing he needed a hobby that didn't involve drinking or having a beard. The biggest challenge in tipping the standard scales of sweet culinary indulgences? "Time," Jackson says. "I'm only one person. The day that you want them is the day I'm going to bake them. Anything over 24 hours, 48 at the most, I'm going to throw away. I want them as fresh as possible."

Creative Loafing: You're known around town for whipping up some pretty unexpected cupcakes. How do you come up with the odd fusions of flavors?

Andy Jackson: Well, the sriracha cupcake with lemongrass frosting and crushed peanuts actually came out of a Man Man song ("Haute Tropique"). It's very strange, talking about some guy that basically kills and eats people and "Two monks from a deli, he's sriracha'd in jelly." So, I tried a sriracha and jelly cupcake. It didn't work, so I evolved it to the lemongrass one. I'm working on a brand new one with the hotdog vendor down the street that sets up in front of The Evening Muse. His name is Carlos and he makes this wonderful, what he calls, Latin relish. It's unbelievable. And that's the next cupcake that's coming out. It's going to be a cumin cupcake with his Latin relish in the middle of it and a cilantro and tomato icing. I don't know where I get all the inspirations. Something just hits me and I go "Oh, lets see if I can play with that." I don't do chocolates and vanillas. I have a white Russian cupcake, which is as close to vanilla as I do, and my Irish Car Bomb is a Guinness cupcake with a chocolate ganache and Irish whiskey center and Bailey's frosting.

Do you have a lot of cupcakes that have gone wrong? What's the worst one you ever tried?

Oh yes, because I'm not trained so it's trial and error. Usually when I'm coming up with a new one, I'll end up throwing away four to five batches before I get it acceptable. I worked on a mojito cupcake for seven to eight batches. I never got it to where I was happy with it. It's on the sidelines. It'll probably come back, because I really want to make that. But so far, I haven't been able to figure it out.

You don't have your own shop, but cupcakes can be ordered through your website (www.fumanchucupcakes.com). Is there anywhere else folks can find them?

Random flavors can be found at Salvador Deli on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You just have to go and see what they have. I'll also bring my cupcakes to The Sanctuary and Jack Beagles, and most of the restaurants and bars around there. The best thing is to follow me either on Facebook or Twitter.

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