My kid has an obsession with pandas. And when I say obsession, I mean we once drove several thousands miles just to go to one of the few American zoos that has pandas in residence (OK, OK, so said zoo also happens to be within two hours of my in-laws’, but still … we couldn’t just hang out at their house, we had to see the pandas).
In my quest for everything panda to fulfill her overwhelming desire for the black and white beasts, I have learned two things: 1) she is far from the only little kid who thinks pandas are the bee’s knees and 2) folks who market to kids do not seem to understand just how MANY kids dig these cuddly critters.
My daughter asked for a panda birthday party a few months back, and you know what I found when I went shopping? Bupkus. Nada. NOTHING.
Throwing a panda birthday party for your kid basically means starting from scratch. Which is where this here blog post comes in. If you aren’t a regular Inside Out reader, you probably found this because you’ve got panda on the brain (or your kid does).
In our case, the obsession began with a reading of Mrs. Harkness and the Panda, one of my attempts at pushing girl power her way. It’s the story of Ruth Harkness, the American socialite who traveled to China and brought home the first real live panda back in the ’30s — after her husband died trying and despite pretty much everyone telling her she couldn’t do it (hence the girl power message). Since then, her bedroom has become a panda’s world, and she’s just sleeping in it.
More From Inside Out: Rainbow Pride (the Martha Drop-Out Edition)
Which led us to the birthday party … and a lot of fruitless searching for panda pinatas and panda cupcakes and the like (side note: I’ll admit I’m glad all the “panda pinata” searches ended in dead links … something about a bunch of kids beating on a cute little bear cub, desperate for candy, would probably give me nightmares). I was hoping to at least find a Kung Fu Panda something or other, but apparently it has been too long since the kiddie flick was on the market, so I had no such luck.
What I did find was a link to the ever awesome Bakerella’s Mini Panda Cupcakes recipe, which changed EVERYTHING. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but it at least got me started. Here’s what I came up with:
24 cupcakes — I use Epicurious’ Butter Cake recipe. It is by far my family’s favorite.
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp softened butter
8 oz. cream cheese (I use neufchatel)
1 package Wilton candy eyeballs
1 bag milk chocolate chips (not semi-sweet)
Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and cream cheese in mixing bowl to make your frosting. Beat until smooth.
Spread on cooled cupcakes. You should have at least a few tablespoons of extra frosting left over. Resist the temptation to eat it! You’re going to need it later!
Add two upside down chocolate chips for eyes, plus two upside down chips for ears. One sideways chip will form a nose, like so:
They already look like pandas, don’t they? You can be done right then and there, or you can go on to add chocolate sprinkles to make a mouth.
Then take a bit of your frosting and dab it on each brown panda “eye.” This will work as an edible “glue” so you can affix a Wilton eyeball to each. And voila:
What is your (or your kid’s!) favorite animal?
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