I think it's safe to say that I'm an anomaly among cookiers in that I do 99-percent of my decorating with a parchment pastry cone - aka a cornet. No squeeze bottles or disposable plastics bags for me - ever! And only on rare occasion, when I need really textured effects, do I use a pastry bag fitted with a metal tip.
Trust me, I'm not at all into doing things just for the sake of being different. I have solid, practical reasons for this staunch decorating stance! Call me lazy if you dare, but there's nothing I like less at the end of a long decorating day than digging into a goopy bag to remove tips for cleaning. Bottles are no better in this respect. But, more importantly, cones allow me the ultimate decorating control! I can cut extremely tiny holes in them (smaller than any pastry tip), which is ideal when going for very delicate lines and dots. I also tend to work with relatively small cones (no longer than about 5 inches, filled, max). This is important because it's easier (at least for me) to keep the cone steady when piping closer to my subject matter, and without having a large mass of icing to push against to get the icing out the tip. Plus, less force applied = less hand fatigue! Last but not least, parchment cones are biodegradable, which means I feel absolutely no guilt about tossing them into the garbage can once spent.
Granted, getting the hang of making cones can take a little practice, but my 8-step method, complete with photos, is as good a place as any to start. Of course, as with most things in cookie decorating, there are many ways to skin this cat (sorry, yicky association). But this is how I learned in cooking school, and I'm far too old and stodgy to change any habits.
Be sure to click on the photos attached to the bottom of this post to view this lesson in a slide show! If you want more help after reading what's here, check out Lesson 4 in my cookie decorating video series. (FYI: This video is a Cookie Connection exclusive, available only on this site for free!) Also, be sure to read more about filling and handling cones on my blog.
What you’ll need for two or more cones:
- Roll of parchment paper
1 | You can buy pre-cut parchment paper triangles for making cones, but I prefer to use ordinary parchment paper on rolls for making mine. It’s easier to find and slightly less expensive (per cone); plus, it has some built-in curvaceousness, which makes it easier to shape into cones. Start by cutting a perfect square of paper off the end of the roll. The more perfect the square to start, the easier it will be to apply my litmus test in Step 7 that tells you if you’ve made the cone properly. Cut the square along the diagonal to end up with two isosceles triangles – that is, two triangles, each with two equal sides and one longer side. You will get one cone from each triangle. Note: If you use parchment paper from a standard (15-inch-wide) roll, the cone should end up 7 1/2 to 8 inches long and about 3 1/2 inches wide at the mouth. If you prefer working with a smaller or larger cone, then start by cutting smaller or bigger isosceles triangles in this step.
2 | Hold the triangle from the corners on either end of the long side, with the long side facing away from you. (Also, hold the paper so that its natural curve is facing up. It will be easier to shape the cone in the next step if you’re not fighting the bend in the paper.)
3 | Turn in the right (or left) corner to make a half-cone with a point (or tip) at the center of the long side of the triangle. Be careful not to over-rotate the paper; if you do, your cone will end up very small and narrow. If you’ve properly rotated the paper, the right (or left) corner and corner facing you should be closely aligned, as pictured in the bottom right of the fourth photo, attached below.
4 | Guide the other half of the triangle around the half-cone just created.
5 | Rotate the cone, so that the corners of the triangle face you. Grab onto all three corners to keep the now fully formed cone from unraveling
6 | Check the tip of the cone. If it’s open at all, as it often is at this point, gently pull the outer corner of the cone toward you to shimmy the hole completely closed. You may need to pull a bit on the innermost corner, too. (I like to start with no hole to give me the ultimate flexibility to later cut the hole as small or large as I like.)
7 | Here’s the litmus test I spoke of earlier: if you started with a perfect square and made the cone properly, the three corners of the triangle should be spaced equidistant from one another (1 to 2 inches apart) at the open end of the cone.
8 | To keep the cone together for good, fold down the corners to the outside of the cone (and to the height of the rest of the cone); then tear or cut a notch at the point where all three corners intersect. Voilà, you’re done.
Now practice this one more time with the remaining triangle. Then tell me how you did! Any cone converts out there?
Photo Credits: Steve Adams for Julia M. Usher's Ultimate Cookies (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, copyright 2011)