Chocolate and fruit sauces are widely used to decorate cheesecakes, but try piping whipped cream if you prefer a decorative topping that doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the dessert. Once you incorporate stabilizing ingredients such as piping gel or gelatin into the cream to hold its shape, you can use piping bags and interchangeable tips to make fancy decorations the same way you would apply frosting. If you don't have decorating bags and tips, you can still make fancy whipped cream decorations with a spatula and spoon.
Insert a large star decorating tip in the decorating bag and fill it with whipped cream. Burp the bag to release air pockets in the whipped cream and push the cream down into the tip. Position the tip at the edge of the cheesecake, about 1/8 inch away from the surface, with the bag at a 90-degree angle.
Squeeze the bag with firm pressure to push the whipped cream out through the tip. Stop applying pressure when the star shape reaches the desired size. Pull the bag straight up away from the cheesecake when the stream stops.
Reposition the star tip directly beside the first star decoration. Squeeze to apply a second whipped cream star. Repeat this process around the cheesecake to create a fancy star border around the outer edge. If desired, you can move the decorating tip inside the outer circle and pipe a second circle, repeating this process until you fill in the entire cheesecake with whipped cream stars.
Whipped Cream Swirls
Insert a large, round decorating tip in the decorating bag or use a star tip if you want to create swirls with ridges.
Position the bag where you want to apply a swirl, held at a 90-degree angle with the cheesecake. You might choose to apply one large swirl at the center of the cheesecake or a border of small swirls around the outer edge.
Squeeze a dot of whipped cream or a star shape, depending on the tip used, at the center where you want to make the swirl. Do not stop squeezing the bag.
Drag the stream of whipped cream out and make a circle around the center dot. Make one or two more circles, moving the tip in slightly toward the center before beginning the next circle. The final swirl should end directly on top of the starting dot at the center. Stop squeezing the bag and pull it straight up to finish the swirl. Repeat this process beside the first swirl if you want to make a border of swirls. The size of the swirl depends on the size of the decorating tip.
Insert a large, star decorating tip in the decorating bag, then fill the bag with whipped cream and burp it. The star tip opening creates ridges in the frosting that resemble the layers of a partially opened rosette.
Squeeze a star at the center point where you want to place the rosette. Rosettes work well as a border around the outer edge, but make a big impact when you fill in the entire top of the cheesecake. Unlike the star fill-in, it works best to start at the center and work your way to the outer edge.
Drag the tip out slightly, aligning it directly beside the center star.
Swirl the whipped cream around the center star twice to make a rosette. Keep each swirl tight against the center star or the previous swirl. This is basically the reverse of making a swirl. Instead of dragging the whipped cream to the outer edge and working your way back to the center, you work your way from the center to the outer edge.
Spatula and Spoon
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of whipped cream over the top surface of the cheesecake with an icing spatula, leaving the sides bare. A rubber spatula or butter knife can also be used. The whipped cream doesn't need to be perfectly smooth, but get it as smooth as you can.
Press the back of a spoon down into the frosting at the center of the cheesecake. The spoon should press down about half the depth of the frosting.
Lift the spoon straight up away from the cheesecake to form a peak. Repeat this process over the entire cheesecake. Reposition the spoon directly beside the previous peak to keep the peaks close together. A simple metal teaspoon works well for this, but you should chill the spoon in the freezer first so it doesn't melt the whipped cream.
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- The sides of a decorated cheesecake are usually left bare so you can see the layers of the crust and cheese filling, but you can cover the sides, if desired. When piping on the side, hold the bag at a 90-degree angle from the surface you're decorating, which means the bag is parallel with the table or counter surface.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.