Sweets for the Sweet – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sweets for the Sweet!

Favorite Baking Molds for Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day Baking Molds form ZANDA PANDA!

Valentine’s Day Baking Molds from ZANDA PANDA!


You can find these molds on the ZANDA PANDA website:

Silicone Heart Cake/Cookie/Chocolate/Craft Mold

Handmade Stoneware Valentine Heart Cookie Molds

HeartSepPinkLRSH copy

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s a Small World After All – On Brazilian Bakers and Star Trek Universal Translators

It’s a Small World After All

On Brazilian Bakers and
Star Trek Universal Translators

I recently received an e-mail from Brazil which was written in Portuguese.  Although I couldn’t read it, I was able to figure out that it was about my Kaleidoscope Heart and Butterfly Molds.  Since I don’t speak Portuguese, I went straight to Google Translate.   After several pleasant e-mails back and forth, I’d met Brazilian Baker Marilucy Ruppel and happily sent her molds off to her.

Here are some of the lovely cakes she’s made with her ZANDA PANDA Molds

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You can see more of her beautiful creations on her website  and her Facebook page and contact her at: marilucyruppel@hotmail.com

I’m still a little amazed at how easy it was to connect with her, to talk about the molds and send them out to her.  But it will be even easier next time, since amazing new devices and apps like World Lens and the Sigmo Voice Translator are well on their way to making Star Trek‘s Universal Translator a reality.  I LOVE today’s technology!


And for those of you reading who do speak Portuguese, here is Google’s translated version. I’m sure it’s not a perfect translation, but for me, it made bridging the language barrier… a  piece of cake 😉



É um pequeno mundo depois de tudo

Em Bakers Brasileiros e Star Trek Universal Tradutores 

Eu recebi recentemente um e-mail do Brasil , que foi escrito em Português . Embora eu não pudesse lê-lo , eu era capaz de descobrir o que era o meu coração Caleidoscópio e Moldes Borboleta . Desde que eu não falo Português, fui direto para o Google Translate . Depois de várias agradáveis ​​e-mails e para trás, que eu conheci no Brasil Baker Marilucy Ruppel e felizmente enviou seus moldes fora dela.

Aqui estão alguns dos bolos linda que ela fez com os moldes  ZANDA PANDA 

 Você pode ver mais de suas belas criações em seu site e sua página no Facebook e contatá-la em : marilucyruppel@hotmail.com

Eu ainda estou um pouco surpreso com o quão fácil era para se conectar com ela, para falar sobre os moldes e enviá-los para ela. Mas será ainda mais fácil da próxima vez, desde novos dispositivos e aplicativos incríveis , como Lens Mundial eo Sigmo Voice Translator estão bem no seu caminho para tornar tradutor de Star Trek Universal uma realidade. O amor de hoje a tecnologia!



Doggie Birthday Cake Recipe, Chaka and Some Very Opinionated Advice on Training a Puppy

Doggie Birthday Cake

It’s not the most attractive cake made from the Puppy Mold.
But your DOG will think it’s fantastic!

The main ingredients are liver and eggs, you can also add grated cheese.

Doggie Birthday Cake (Liver & Egg), made with ZANDA PANDA's Puppy Mold

Doggie Birthday Cake - This must be a Liver-Nose Rhodesian Ridgeback Cake 🙂

This cake is similar to my dog Chaka’s favorite treat.  I remember once when I was making a batch, I turned around to see him waiting patiently and expectantly behind me – next to a puddle of drool.  And I’d never seen him drool before.

Chaka’s favorite drool-inducing treat was actually crunchier than the cake recipe below.  I would cook the liver first, add eggs, cheese, wheat germ and a little flour, then spread it thinly on a cookie sheet and bake.


This is a pic of Chaka, he was absolutely amazing and is absolutely irreplaceable.

Doggie Birthday Cake

You’ll need:

◊   About 1 lb of chicken liver
◊   Three eggs
◊   ½ Cup of oatmeal (plain and uncooked, not flavored or sweetened)
◊   About 1½ cups of flour (I used equal parts rice and wheat flour)
◊   Cheese (optional)

The texture of this doggie birthday cake really isn’t like cake at all.  It’s very dense and is more like a very soft dog biscuit.

Prepare Puppy mold by brushing the interior with melted vegetable shortening, then dusting with flour.  Place Puppy Mold on cookie sheet to bake and to use to transport to and from oven.

Rinse chicken livers and cut into halves or quarters.  Whisk the eggs and add to the liver.  Add oatmeal.  Add flour(s) about a half cup at a time until it forms a thick batter.

Pour into one spot on the mold, to minimize air bubbles.  Bake at 350 °F / 180 °C / Gas mark 4  for about an hour.  Cake is done when it pulls away from the sides of the mold and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool, remove from mold and cut or break into bite-sized pieces.


You can also add cheese, grated or cut into small cubes.

A small amount of garlic could also be added.  Too much garlic is not healthy for dogs, but a tiny bit is considered OK.

A note on flour:

I used rice and wheat flours.  I made rice flour by just putting rice in a food processor and grinding to a powder.

Since the most common food allergies in dogs are a sensitivity to corn or wheat you could probably use all rice flour if you don’t know if your doggie party guests have allergies or not.

That’s it for the recipe, if you want to hang around for my blathering of my opinionated views on raising a puppy, grab a cup of tea/ coffee/cocoa and make yourself comfortable:

My Very Opinionated Views on Raising a Puppy

I cringe when I see people do the dominance thing with their puppy to show them who the leader of the pack is by rolling them onto their backs, grabbing their scruff and glaring at them.  I also hate to hear people barking loud commands at their dogs as if they’re deaf.

I have had incredibly smart dogs and cats since I was little.  I firmly believe that this was partly due to just talking to them –in a normal voice.  By naming things and using lots of short phrases they could remember, it allowed them to have a huge ‘vocabulary’.   Remember, you’re basically teaching them a foreign language (in a manner of speaking).   Also, when you talk in a normal, soft tone to your puppy, they not only have to pay close attention to what you’re saying, but a loud, sharp command from you will get instant attention.  These should be saved for dangerous situations.

The even bigger plus to this is that you become the wise, respected one and your dog will look to you to know how to react to any new situation -or will want you to ‘name’ things for him.  Chaka would look at me, then pointedly look at the object he was curious about and then look back to me for a response.  He’d also do this if something was abandoned on the coffee table and he wanted to eat it.  He’d actually come upstairs to get me to show me something that my daughter had left and then politely sit next to it, look at me, then it, then back, asking if he could have it.

All ridgebacks are NOT countersurfers – to teach this, I left a piece of bread enticingly on the coffee table when he was a puppy, watched carefully and made a big deal out of him not touching it, then gave him a much yummier treat for being such a good boy.

The bread lesson was pretty easy because he already knew not to chew things that weren’t his toys.  All this took was consistency for just a short while.  When he first came home as a curious puppy, and would go to chew something, I would just say quietly,” No touch, not yours” and then say in a more silly, playful voice “This is yours!” and hand him one of his toys while telling him what a good boy he was for chewing it – you’ll have to have a toy readily available in all the rooms your puppy will be in, or go find one with him.  It was only a week, two at the most when he’d come into a room and immediately pounce on one of his toys.  He never destroyed anything as a puppy – and ridgeback puppies can do a lot of damage, some have ‘eaten’ couches!

My two most important other pieces of advice:

  1. Make sure that adorable thing your puppy is doing now will still be acceptable to you when your dog is an adult.  Don’t allow it now unless you’ll be OK with it later.
  2. Once means always.  You can’t let them do something “just this once”.  Consistency is very important.

I have lots more opinionated, smarty-pants advice, like how to make your puppy ‘bulletproof’, so it can handle new situations without being stressed or panicked;  getting them hooked on praise so they will always want to please you, etc., but I think this post is long enough already 🙂

Here are two of my favorite pictures of Chaka and me:

Chaka and me on the Port Jeff Ferry

Chaka and me on the Port Jeff Ferry.  I think the loud ferry horn went off and startled us…or someone just told us a really good joke.

One of my favorite pics of Chaka and me

This is another favorite pic of me and Chaka.  The expression on his face tells me someone was walking our way with a dog or puppy.  He loved to meet other dogs and was always sweet and friendly.

What’s your favorite dog treat recipe?

I ♥ Low Fat, Healthy Brownies


Easy, Chocolaty & Guilt Free (Also Cute)!

I first tasted black bean brownies at a party after an Aikido seminar in Boston.  I thought they were fantastic; fudgy dense and chocolaty.  These will definitely appeal to kids and are easy to make with a little adult help with the food processor.

Ingredients for heart healthy, low fat brownies

♥ Ingredients for heart healthy, low fat brownies ♥

These brownies couldn’t be simpler to make.  All you actually need is a box of brownie mix and a can of black beans.   That’s it.   I added some optional ingredients in the big silly pink parenthesis.  I used a little strong, black coffee and a dash of cinnamon to give it a little more complexity – but I forgot to add a touch of vanilla to add a mellow note.  I also added a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder to make it even more chocolaty.  For the truly adventurous, a dash of cayenne (I wasn’t that adventurous this time 🙂 )  And brownies aren’t brownies to me without walnuts.

ZANDA PANDA Puppy Mold prepared by brushing in melted vegetable shortening and dusting with cocoa powder.

ZANDA PANDA Puppy Mold, which was prepared by brushing in melted vegetable shortening and lightly dusting with cocoa powder. Ready for the low fat brownie batter!

Basic directions:  I prepared the Puppy mold by lightly brushing the interior with melted vegetable shortening (Crisco), then dusting with cocoa powder.  This helps to release baked goods and also gives their surface a smoother finish.

To make the batter, rinse a can of black beans in a colander, then put them back in the can and add water until it reaches the top of the can.  Purée beans and water in a food processor and don’t stop until it’s very smooth.  Add puréed beans to the brownie mix, pour into the pan and bake at 325 °F (177 °C) for 40 to 55 minutes.  Don’t overbake ;P

Better Brownie Batter in a ZANDA PANDA Puppy Mold

Better Brownie Batter in a ZANDA PANDA Puppy Mold

Puppy mold filled with brownie batter.  I studded half with walnuts, pressing them in slightly, but not enough to show on the decorative surface of the brownies.

Slightly overbaked but delicious low fat brownie made with ZANDA PANDA's Puppy Mold

Slightly overbaked but delicious low fat brownie made with ZANDA PANDA's Puppy Mold

I like my brownies on the fudgy side.  These came out a little more cake-y than I like them, because I overbaked them slightly.  I thought that the middle was unbaked when checking wih a toothpick.  I actually was hitting the melted chocolate chips.  Duh.  I don’t think the brownie would have cracked if I hadn’t overbaked it a little.  Also the walnuts made the surface flex because they weren’t completey ’embedded’ in the back of the brownie.

But it still tasted fantastic.  The best part is that it’s not only super simple to make, it’s also low fat, high fiber, guilt free and chocolaty!  And kids will actually like it!  All in all, very cute and VERY tasty!!!


We’re now taking reservations for Puppy Molds! There is no obligation when you reserve. We’ll notify you when they’re ready to ship and will hold your reservation for two weeks.

To reserve, just e-mail us at: info@zandapanda.com and mention the Puppy Mold in the subject line.

Join the Zanda Panda Mailing List for special offers, contests and coupons! It’s free, we will never share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time. Although we’d love to hear all about you, all we really need is your name and an e-mail address.

If you’re already subscribed, watch for a special offer on the Puppy Mold coming soon!

And the winner is…

Betty Crocker Super Moist
vanilla cake mix

If you have to use a mix, grab this one.

See tips below for getting the most detail from a traditionally baked cake.
BTW, I was NOT compensated in any way for this recommendation/review.

We’ve been testing all sorts of cake mixes and of course found that ‘bundt’ type mixes and heavier textured cakes perform the best in detailed molds.  Because denser cakes have smaller ‘air pockets’ throughout, they have a smoother surface which captures a lot more detail.  The surface of a light airy cake can lose a lot of the finer details.  Also, a heavier cake will hold together better, while a light cake can ‘tear’ if the mold is flexed before it’s cooled thoroughly.

So of all the ‘lighter’ mixes we’ve tested, Betty Crocker Super Moist vanilla cake mix consistently performed better than all the others.  It has a good surface texture, makes a nice ‘crust’, has a very moist interior and very good flavor.

'Yellow Lab' Puppy Cake

Here’s a ‘Yellow Lab’ cake made from Betty Crocker Super Moist vanilla cake mix.

Here are some tips to getting and making a great impression with Zanda Panda’s Puppy Mold

•  Prepare molds by brushing melted vegetable shortening (Crisco) into the mold with a pastry brush, then dusting with flour.  Tap out excess flour.
•  Place mold on cookie sheet.   Use it when baking and to transport mold to and from oven.
•  Let batter rest in the mixing bowl for 5-10 minutes before filling mold.
•  Pour batter into one spot in the mold, letting it flow smoothly throughout the mold.  This will minimize air bubble entrapment.
•  Bake at 325°F/163°C for 50-65 minutes.  Cake is done when it begins to pull away from sides of pan.
•  Allow cake to cool completely before removing from mold.
•  When cool, place serving plate over mold, flip mold and plate over together, then gently remove mold from cake.

We’ll be taking reservations on the new Puppy Mold soon and will be sending a notice to our mailing list subscribers with a discount coupon.  If you’re not already a mailing list member, sign up today.  It’s free, your personal information will never be shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Butterfly Brunch

How to make a Butterfly-Themed Garden Party/Tea Party


Butterfly-Themed Spring/Summer Tea Party!

Butterfly-Themed Garden/ Tea Party!

Yes, I had to wait patiently for the apple tree to bloom for this shot – and for a sunny day!

Jump over to the Zanda Panda website to see how to make all the goodies pictured above, such as butterfly cake and cupcake toppers, embossed tea sandwiches, Kaleidoscope Heart and Butterfly mini sandwich cookies and port wine cheese butterflies on crackers!

I didn’t have room to show the iced tea with little butterfly ice cubes (just freeze colorful fruit juices in the Butterfly mold, then add to iced tea). Beautiful stoneware pottery courtesy of the very talented Ria Lira Levine.


Easy, fun ideas for spring or summer entertaining – and a really tasteful way to tell Mom how much you love her this Mother’s Day!

Join the Zanda Panda Mailing List for new product news and special offers only for list members (It’s free, we promise NEVER to share your information and you can unsubscribe at any time).

New Video, New Chocolate Technique!

Kaleidoscope Heart and Kaleidoscope Butterfly Molds

Make two-tone chocolate cake toppers or No-Bake Backwards Cakes™

I’m very excited about this new chocolate technique!  I had been making multi-colored chocolate cake toppers by filling just the hearts or butterflies with a separate color.  I realized, quite by accident, that the scrollwork and flowers could also be made in another color from the background.  I think the two-tone look is very elegant.

Don’t be afraid to try this technique, even if you’re a novice baker/chocolatier.  It’s very easy and will give you amazing results.

No-Bake Backwards Cakes™

If you want to make a complete Kaleidoscope Heart cake with a chocolate shell – a No-Bake Backwards Cake™ – rather than just a cake topper,  just brush chocolate onto the sides of the mold after the second (background) color has been chilled.

Then fill the shell with layers your favorite ingredients, such as cookie crumbs, lady fingers, sliced, store-bought pound cake, jam, fruit, Nutella, drizzles of syrups or liqueurs, ice cream – anything you like!

You can optionally add a final layer of chocolate to seal the cake (which will become the bottom of the cake after demolding).

If you use candy making and dipping chocolate, you won’t need to temper it.  If using regular chocolate, here are some tips on melting and quick-tempering:

Quick-Tempered Chocolate

Finely chop chocolate or use chocolate chips. Melt two thirds of the chocolate in the microwave for thiry second intervals, stirring in between with a silicone or rubber spatula (don’t use a wooden utensil, it can introduce moisture which will cause your chocolate to ‘seize’). Keep the temperature below 120F. When chocolate has melted, add the remaining one third in three batches, stirring until smooth after each addition.

Using a pastry brush, paint the melted chocolate into your mold. Be sure to brush into the crevices, brushing out any trapped air bubbles.

Try this cake topper for Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day Kaleidoscope Heart Chocolate Cake Topper

White Chocolate "Cameo" Kaleidoscope Herat Mold Topper

White Chocolate “Cameo” Kaleidoscope Heart Mold Topper

Kaleidoscope Heart Cake Topper for Valentine’s Day

See step-by-step instructions below.

Watch the VIDEO to see how easy it is!


This Kaleidoscope Heart Cake Topper is very easy to make and is perfect for Valentine’s day.

All you need is:

♥  Silicone spatula
♥  Gel food coloring
♥  White chocolate

I used Ghirardelli’s Candy Making & Dipping Bar (the kind you’d dip strawberries into or make candy with).  This is how easy it was to make:

First Layer-Hearts and Scrollwork

Melt several medium sized chunks (a handful) of white chocolate according to package directions (in this case, in the microwave for one minute at half power, stir, then for 30 second intervals,until melted, stirring in between).

Add  desired color of GEL food coloring to the chocolate for the first layer.  This layer will be the hearts and scrollwork.

With the spatula, spread chocolate around on the face of the mold.  Then, holding the edge of the spatula at about a 45 degree angle, drag it across the face of the mold.  This will scrape away the chocolate on the highest, flat areas and leave chocolate filling in the scrollwork and hearts. If chocolate begins to solidify, just pop it into the microwave for a few seconds.

Second Layer- Base Color

When this layer has cooled and solidified, repeat the melting process again with about four times more chocolate.  Tint again with a different or contrasting color if desired or use white, milk or dark chocolate.

Pour chocolate into the center of the mold and spread gently out to the sides with a spatula, so that you don’t dislodge or melt the first layer.

When cool, peel mold away and top a cake or cheesecake for instant elegance.

Alternatively, brush more melted chocolate along the sides of the mold using a pastry brush.  When cool, fill chocolate shell with layers of your favorite fillings.  Place plate over mold, flip mold and cake together and gently peel mold of of your No-Bake Backwards Cake!




I’m back from QVC training.  The Kaleidoscope Heart and Butterfly Molds will be featured there soon.  I’ll post the date when it’s finalized.

So I finally had time to have some fun with the prototype Puppy Mold.  Here are cake, cookie and chocolate puppies of various breeds.

Chocolate Lab Puppy

Chocolate Lab Puppy


Dalmatian  Puppy Cookie

Dalmatian Puppy Cookie

Yellow Lab Puppy Cake made with the Zanda Panda Puppy Mold

Yellow Lab Puppy Cake

Umm, this is a poodle...

Pink Terrier Puppy Cookie

And you knew this was a terrier...right?

Heart-Healthy Cream Cheese Cake

zp-kh_cake_722Heart-Healthy Cream Cheese Cake


This cake is very easy to make, even for kid chefs and novice bakers.  The recipe has lots of room for experimentation to give it your own special twist.  It also uses the tub from the cream cheese to measure the other ingredients, so clean-up is very easy.

The recipe is an adaptation of a heart-healthy cake recipe by Paula76 in reply to a Chowound post on heart-healthy cake recipes (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/574561), for use with the Zanda Panda Kaleidoscope Heart Mold.

Recipe at: http://www.zandapanda.com/H-HCCCake.asp.

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