• 125 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • 125 g white caster sugar
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 125 g self-raising flour
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder

For the buttercream icing:

  • 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500 g icing sugar

To decorate:

  • 100 g ready-to-roll black icing
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 24 white chocolate chips
  • 1 black writing icing pen


  1. 1

    Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Line a 12-hole cupcake tin with silver foil paper cupcake cases. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk to cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.

  2. 2

    Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with each egg to stop the mixture splitting.

  3. 3

    Sift over the remaining flour and baking powder, then gently fold in with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.

  4. 4

    Divide the mixture evenly among the cupcake cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. The cakes are cooked when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. They should be golden and risen and spring back to the touch.

  5. 5

    Put the cakes on a wire rack and allow to cool completely before you start decorating.

  6. 6

    Meanwhile, make the buttercream icing. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand whisk to beat together the butter and vanilla extract for 2-3 minutes, until pale and soft.

  7. 7

    Add half the icing sugar and beat on a low setting at first, so the icing sugar doesn’t puff up and out of your bowl. Beat on a higher setting until smooth, then repeat with the rest of the icing sugar. Continue to beat for 1-2 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

  8. 8

    Spread the buttercream over the cooled cupcakes to make smooth domed tops.

  9. 9

    Roll out the black icing to 3mm thickness. Cut out 24 x 2cm circles for the ears and 24 x 1.5cm circles for the bases of the eyes. Using the remaining black icing, roll 12 balls, each about the size of a blueberry, for the pandas’ noses.

  10. 10

    Press the noses and the bases of the eyes lightly onto the cupcakes, then sprinkle the desiccated coconut over the rest of the surfaces – it will stick to the buttercream. If any of the coconut stays on the eyes or noses, gently brush it away with a small paintbrush.

  11. 11

    Press white chocolate chips into place for the eyeballs. Using the black writing icing pen, make pupils in the centres, then draw a mouth under each nose.

  12. 12

    Finish the panda faces by making 2 small indentations with a knife where the ears will go, then gently pressing the black icing circles into them so that about a quarter of each is embedded in the sponges and buttercream.

Nutritional Details

Each serving provides
  • Energy 2303kj 550kcal 28%
  • Fat 29.5g 42%
  • Saturates 17.6g 88%
  • Sugars 59.8g 66%
  • Salt 0.2g 3%

% of the Reference Intakes

Typical values per 100g: Energy 1968kj/470kcal

Each serving provides

67.7g carbohydrate 1.0g fibre 2.8g protein

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