Decorate round cakes with white and black icing and modeling chocolate or candy clay or fondant to look like the cutest panda bears for Valentine's Day, a baby shower, or a birthday.
Allow the cake ingredients to sit at room temperature for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush two 6-inch cake pans with butter then dust with flour and line with a round of parchment paper.
Brush 4 cupcake cavities in a muffin tin with butter then dust with flour.
Combine the cake mix, water, oil, egg whites, sour cream, and pudding mix together in a large mixing bowl.
Use an electric mixer to beat on low for 30 seconds then increase speed to medium and beat for 1 ½ minutes.
Fill 4 cupcake cavities about ⅔'s full with batter.
Divide the remaining batter among the two 6-inch cake pans.
Bake the cupcakes and cakes for 18-26 minutes removing the cupcakes as soon as they are done at around 18-20 minutes. Check the cakes at around the 22 minute mark.
A toothpick inserted into the cakes should come out with just a few moist crumbs. Or the cakes should spring back when you press a finger on top.
Allow the cakes and cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes in their pans then remove them and set them on a cooling rack. Peel off the parchment paper once the cakes are cooled completely.
Place cakes forming two bears on a large cake board and cut each cupcake at a curve so that they fit up against the cake to form the panda bear's ears.
Beat the shortening and butter together until well combined using an electric mixer.
Add the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the milk and beat until fully incorporated and the frosting is smooth.
Add more milk as needed to make the frosting soft enough to pipe through a star tip yet hold it's shape.
Spoon ⅔ cup of the frosting into another bowl.
Stir the cocoa powder into that small bowl of frosting then color using black food coloring and add more milk, if needed.
Roll out the black, white, and pink modeling chocolate to about ⅛th inch thickness on a silicone mat using a silicone rolling pin.
Cut four 2 ¼ inch by 1 ¾ inch ovals from the black modeling chocolate.
Cut four 1 ½ inch circles from the white, four small ¼ inch hearts from the white and four 1 inch circles from the black.
Attach one white circle to one black oval using a thin layer of water or clear piping gel.
Attach one black circle on top of the white circle then attach one small white heart along one edge of the black circle.
Repeat creating 4 eyes with all the hearts pointing up or down in one direction.
Cut out two 1 ½ inch long heart shaped noses from the black modeling chocolate.
Cut two 1 inch hearts and one ½ inch circle from the pink modeling chocolate.
Place the two points of the heart together then attach the circle over the top of the tips using water or piping gel to form a cute bow.
Attach two eyes and a nose using frosting to each round cake.
Pipe white frosting using a star tip over the entire surface of the round cakes around the eyes and nose.
Pipe black frosting stars over the cupcake ears.
Press the pink modeling chocolate bow just below one ear of one of the panda cakes.
Serve and enjoy!
Allow the frosting to crust over then cover the panda bear cakes with a large box or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days.
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