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No lizard-themed cake is complete without a fondant gecko to use as a cake topper or adorn the sides of the cake. A gecko might seem complex at first sight, but if you break it down into smaller elements, the body is composed of basic shapes. Shape the head, body and tail from a single piece of fondant, and form each leg separately to attach to the sides of the body. With more than 1,500 different species of geckos, color patterns vary greatly, but bright green is a common base color. Use food coloring to layer other colors over the green.
Roll a large ball of green fondant into a long cylinder shape. Taper the bottom one-third of the cylinder to a gradual point for the tail. The head should be roughly the same thickness as the body.
Bend the tail so it curves slightly rather than leaving it perfectly straight and in line with the body. Place a butter knife or similar object on the outside of the tail to hold the curve shape if it straightens out easily.
Pinch the head end in your fingers to make a triangular shape with a slightly rounded tip at the nose. The sides, as well as the top and bottom of the head, should taper in to form a point.
Squeeze the fondant just behind the head to make a narrower ring that distinguishes the head from the body.
Draw a line around the front of the head to form the mouth. Draw the line with either a fondant pick tool or a toothpick. Alternatively, you can cut out a wedge shape to make an open mouth. Press a small piece of red fondant flat and attach it to the inside of the mouth with a dot of royal icing.
Push the pick tool or toothpick into the nose just above the center of the mouth to make two small nostrils.
Press a fondant ball tool on either side of the top of the head to form eye sockets. Roll out a small piece of black fondant about 1/4-inch thick and cut out two small circles. Squeeze a dot of royal icing in each eye socket and press the black circles into the icing to hold them in place.
Roll out four short cylinders of green fondant for the legs. Make one end thicker than the other end. Form a small ball at the narrow end for the feet. Press the ball flat and use a fondant knife to cut out four to five toes. Bend the legs in half to make an L-shape.
Push a toothpick into the thick end of each of the gecko legs. Cut the toothpicks to shorter lengths as needed, depending on the size of the gecko. Push the toothpicks into the sides of the gecko body, close to the bottom of the body. The thick thighs should be horizontal, with the rest of the L-shape leg resting vertically. The toothpick provides all the support for the legs; the feet and narrow end of the legs don't support the weight of the gecko.
Mix your choice of food coloring gel or powder with a few drops of a clear alcohol such as vodka or an alcohol-based extract such as lemon extract or almond extract to form an edible paint. Brush the color on the gecko to add markings. For example, some geckos have bright red patches or dots on the back with red lines along the snout, while others have bright blue patches on the feet. Skip this step if you prefer a solid green gecko.
Allow the finished gecko to dry and harden overnight before placing it on the cake.
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