This afternoon was all about making the above image happen, and even though it does not look good with this blog's format, Jeff demanded that I place it at the top. And now, the backstory. Yesterday we saw the following image somewhere on the internet:
...and we felt we had to make them with an urgency matched only by our controversial need to crucify a Peep during our torrid courtship nearly two years ago:
Yeah. We're not above making food animals suffer and die for our amusement/salvation. As we pondered exactly how to make those panda cupcakes a reality over dinner at Red Lobster, we concluded that the cupcakes simply had to be red velvet. How shocking would it be to bite into a panda face and reveal his gory, red flesh? Totally. Then obviously we'd do cream cheese frosting, and as for the black face details...? We'd use those big Ghirardelli's chocolate chips. And...huh. We'd figure something out! Let's do this!
Having never made red velvet cake before, I consulted the always completely reliable Joy the Baker, and she did not disappoint. Jeff manned the standing mixer while I made the frosting and dealt with the red food coloring--we used an entire one-ounce bottle. Disturbing. Soon enough we had a dozen slightly hamburgerish-looking cupcakes waiting to be transformed into pandas.
It turned out that size-wise the Ghirardelli chips were suitable only for the pandas' mouths, so we had to come up with some way to make the ears, eyes, and noses. I melted a handful of chips in the microwave, poured the chocolate into a Ziploc bag, cut a hole in the end, and got set to pipe some shapes onto a sheet of waxed paper. Except the chocolate was runny and completely uncontrollable. "Maybe I could use a paintbrush..." I said uncertainly, but meanwhile Jeff was being a genius.
Jeff melted a couple of side-by-side chips in the microwave and knew he was on to something. He then overlapped the chips, melted them on waxed paper, and used a toothpick to fine-tune the shapes.
It was beautiful. We slipped his eyes and ears into the freezer, along with pupils and noses that I had hand-dotted onto waxed paper (or do you prefer wax paper instead? if so, beg pardon). And then it was time to put everything together.
That cream cheese frosting was amazing, by the way (although we left out Joy's cinnamon), and it made enough frosting for a dozen cupcakes and a couple of graham crackers that I'll be more than happy to snack on at school tomorrow.
I frosted while Jeff applied the features, and can I pause for just one second to celebrate the fact that I am not married to some guy who watches football all weekend? Jeff wanted to make these cupcakes as much as I did, if not more, and we had a million big, crazy laughs this afternoon. My man kicks ass.
As the faces started to happen, a hush fell over the two of us, punctuated by random snorts and mini-shrieks. Again, we were working toward the creation of the Comixed-style cartoon shown above, so some pandas had to look shocked, horrified, and sad. And that was hilarious.
One of the pandas had to be sacrificed in the name of comedy, and I was shaking and hooting with glee as I attempted to take a photo of the carnage:
"What is that coming my way? It looks wide and deep. I think I'll name it 'Mouth'. "Ahhh! ... Mouth! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me?"
The above geekery is thanks to Jeff. And now here are all of our pandas, minus one dud. Please note the way the pandas' ears move to the top of their heads to convey surprise and outrage. This too was Jeff's idea.
So while our pandas are admittedly not as perky as the ones that inspired us, we think their raw, unbridled emotion and life-or-death pathos gives them an edginess that really sets the tone for the holidays.
Please to notice the sad panda tear.