Cheetah print is a good decoration for beginning bakers to attempt because it does not require much precision and it's easy to adapt the pattern to baked treats of all sizes. The wild frosting pattern has three basic layers: a base layer of frosting across your cake, cupcakes or cookies; a layer of broad, rounded spots; and a third layer that consists of narrow, rounded outlines. Keep a picture of a cheetah or cheetah print icing on your work surface to follow as a guide while you pipe the decorations.
Prepare and Practice
Add food coloring, edible gel paint or color dust to your frosting according to the instructions on the coloring product. Prepare three different colors of frosting. Tan, brown and black frosting yield natural-looking cheetah print, but you can use any three colors. For example, use lavender, purple and black frostings for a more playful print.
Fit two piping bags with narrow, round decorating tips. One tip should have a slightly wider opening than the other tip. Scoop the medium-colored frosting into the piping bag with the wider tip. Fill the narrow-tipped piping bag with the black or darkest color of frosting.
Practice piping the spots and outlines on parchment paper before you decorate your baked treat. With the medium-colored frosting, pipe a rounded shape that resembles a lake or pond. Avoid making a perfect circle. Outline the spot with a narrow line of the dark frosting. Leave one or two small gaps in the outline so that it does not encircle the spot completely.
Allow the practice spots to set on the parchment paper for several minutes until the surface of the frosting feels dry to the touch. Gently press the top of the outlined spot with a piece of parchment paper to flatten the frosting. The frosting should not stick to the parchment as long as it's set and dried sufficiently. The spots may look like raised mounds if you don’t flatten them.
Piping the Complete Pattern
With an icing spatula or butter knife, spread the lightest color of frosting across the surface of the item you are decorating. Place the item on a workspace that allows you to keep both hands on the piping bag while you apply the cheetah spots.
Pipe a layer of medium-colored spots across the surface of the item you are decorating. Randomize your placement of the spots so that the print looks natural.
Pipe black, incomplete outlines around the spots. Add peppercorn-sized dots of dark frosting between the large outlined spots to fill in the pattern.
Allow the spots to set until the surface of the frosting feels dry. Gently press the spots with parchment paper to flatten them.
Items you will need
- Food coloring, edible gel paint or color dust
- Piping bags
- Narrow round piping tip
- Extra-narrow round piping tip
- Parchment paper
- Icing spatula or butter knife
- Most decorators choose black to outline the cheetah spots in every color scheme.
- The size of your frosting spots depends on the item you are decorating. Make pea-sized spots on cupcakes or cookies; make nickel-sized spots on a cake.
- Flattening the spots is optional. If you do not feel comfortable with that step after practicing it on parchment paper, you can skip it.
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