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Mar 27, 2017 11:17am

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Blog Recipes and Tips From Julia Usher

Making a Parchment Pastry Cone

I hope you’ll find it reassuring to learn that I do 95 percent of my cookie decorating with this simple DIY tool, also called a cornet. Rarely do I go as far as rigging a reusable bag with a metal tip, mostly because there’s nothing I dislike more than reaching into a goopy bag to remove the coupler for cleaning. (The coupler is the set of two plastic pieces that holds the tip to the bag.) The same cleaning issue goes hand in hand with squeeze bottles. By contrast, cleaning a parchment cone is completely unnecessary: just snip off the tip, squeeze out the leftover icing, and toss out the cone.

Call me lazy if you dare, but cones have performance advantages too! First, I can cut extremely tiny holes in them (smaller than any pastry tip), which allows for very detailed decorating. Second, the tension in the paper makes them easier to control than squeeze bottles, disposable plastic piping bags, or baggies with holes cut in their corners, which are often used as substitutes - though floppy ones, at best. What’s more, disposable plastic piping bags are usually seamed along the edges, which means you’ll never get a perfectly round line if you pipe through them without a tip. And they’re not biodegradable, which brings me full circle to the dreaded cleaning issue . . .

Granted, making parchment cones takes some practice at first. But it’s kind of like riding a bike: once you’ve got the hang of it, it becomes second nature. This 8-step method, complete with step-by-step photos, is a great place to get started. If you want more help after reading this, check out Lesson 4 in my cookie decorating video series.

Note: Though I’m a die-hard cone user, I use pastry bags fitted with metal tips when I’m seeking a highly textured look to the icing, such as for basketweave, ruffles, or grass/fringe effects. There’s really no way around bags and tips in these circumstances.

What you’ll need for two or more cones:

  • Roll of parchment paper
  • Scissors

To make:

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 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 third photo. 

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. And again with another square, until you can make cones with your eyes closed!

Need more help? Check out Lesson 4 in my new video series, available here or in the link below, to watch me making a parchment cone.

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  I am so glad that I have found you.

By doreathy booth on January 15, 2014

Hi, Doreathy! So nice to have you here.

By Julia M Usher on January 15, 2014

How long is the parchment cone usable once filled with icing?  I mostly use bags and tips, and if I am working with several colors, I can place the bags in a cup with a damp paper towel to prevent the icing from drying up.  I can’t figure out how to keep the parchment fresh, and find that if I let the cone sit too long, I have to trim the tip.  Any advice would be fabulous!

By Lorraine Doerr on February 02, 2014

Hi, Lorraine! Great question!

I usually wrap the tip in plastic wrap when not in use (Glad Press ‘n Seal is nice and clingy), which helps keep the icing from drying in the tip and plugging it. I also tend to work with my cones right away, one color at a time, so I rarely have an issue. If the icing dries in the tip despite all of this, I just snip off the tip and pump the icing directly into another cone, so never any clean up. Hope this helps a bit.

By Julia M Usher on February 02, 2014

I cannot wait to try your ideas to keep colored icing from bleeding!
Thank you

By Dena Zwingle on April 18, 2014

Hi, Dena! I hope they work for you. Keep me posted!

By Julia M Usher on April 18, 2014

 
  DEAR JULIA!
I LOVE YOUR WORK ANT THANK YOU FOR SHARING. Im FROM AUSTRALIA AND WE HAVE PROBLEM WITH HUMIDITY AND MY GINGERBREAD HOUSES ABSORB MOISTURE .
ITS MY BIG PROBLEM AND MY CONCERN IS WITH ADDING WATER TO RI WILL THAT SOFTEN THE COOKIES .
  THANK YOU SO SO MACH.
    ZOKI

By zoki on October 17, 2014

Zoki - Thanks for the kind words. I just add a small amount of water to my icing to thin it to the right consistency; it’s still mostly egg whites and sugar. Once it dries, the royal icing acts to seal the cookie and helps keep it from getting too soft. I usually thinly coat the back side of all large construction pieces for extra stability. Though of course, the more water you add to the icing, the longer it will take to dry, which could exacerbate your softening/humidity issues in the meantime. You could always loosen the icing by adding more pasteurized egg whites. And, of course, storing/displaying the pieces under temperature/humidity-controlled conditions is important (i.e., use an air conditioner, dehumidifier, etc.). Hope I’ve helped a bit.

By Julia M Usher on October 17, 2014

Ok, So because of you I went on amazon and bought a million things to make some beginner cookies. Now I see you make your own pipe bags. Whatttt? you are a genius. Love it.

By Wanda on January 17, 2015

LOL, Wanda! I am a cookie decorating enabler! Have fun playing with your new toys! :)

By Julia M Usher on January 18, 2015

please add me toyour mailing list

By Marie Pritsky on January 27, 2015

Hi, Marie! Thanks for your request to be added to my mailing list. However, to be added, you must subscribe yourself (for privacy reasons). It’s easy – just go to the home page of my site and click on “subscribe” under “Newsletter” in the upper right corner (I emailed you a screen shot); then follow the prompts. Thanks again for your interest!

By Julia M Usher on January 27, 2015

Hello Julia
Thank you for your fabulous videos.  I love making and decorating sugar cookies and can’t wait to try some of your designs.  They are beautiful.

By Hedy Keller on February 11, 2015

Thanks so much, Hedy. Glad to meet you here, and please let me know if you have any questions at any time! Happy decorating!

By Julia M Usher on February 11, 2015

First off, thank you soooo much!!! Using a parchment cone has changed my game! However, i sometimes have issues with my icing coming out sort of curly? Like it comes out and curls up against the tip making a sort of loop. Eithr that, or the icing line is sort of off center. I hope that makes sense. Any idea on whats going on and how to fix? Thank you! Youre an absolute cookie wizard, so much talent!

By Alana on February 15, 2015

Hi, Alana! Thanks so much for the kind words. You may have some extra paper at the tip interfering with how the icing exits the cone (an over-rotated flap or stray tag), or the tip might have been bent or damaged. Try cutting a slightly larger hole; if that doesn’t work or you don’t want a hole that big, it’s best to start with a clean bag with an undamaged tip/perfect tight fold.

By Julia M Usher on February 16, 2015

Hi Julia! Thank you thank you thank you thank you! I watched you demonstrate this method on Youtube recently. It was an aha! moment for me. I’ve been interested in making royal icing decorated cookies for a while. I never did because I’m not a fan of washing pastry bags and tips. (That’s putting it nicely.) This method worked really well for me! The best part was after decorating. I squeezed the leftover icing in a bowl, covered it and threw the paper cone in the trash. Ahhhh. That’s more like it. Thanks so much for demonstrating this technique. I look forward to cookie decorating now.

By Mary Blackledge Corroo on September 28, 2015

Hi, Mary, So glad to hear the cones were a success for you! I love them too, as you know! :) And thanks for taking the time to let me know!

By Julia M Usher on September 30, 2015

Hi Julia,

First of all, I love your videos! They are really informative, and I really enjoy how clearly you explain why you use certain techniques, and the balanced way that you explain your preferences for particular decorating tools. You’ve really inspired me to try cookie decorating (I’m a cake kinda girl)!

I had a quick question about your piping bags - I’ve followed all the directions, and the litmus test appears to have worked, but I still seem to end up with the top layer of the piping bag not lying flush against the cone once it is all folded - do you know what I am doing wrong? I’ve made sure that I keep a tight hold of all the corners, but the final turn of the paper never seems to sit nicely!

Thanks again.

By Alix on November 26, 2015

Hi, Alix. Thanks so much. It’s hard to say what’s happening without seeing what you’re doing or the end result. Could you send an image? I might then be able to more accurately assist. My guess is that you just aren’t pulling the paper taut enough at the corners when making the notch, so the outer paper flaps open a bit, but not 100 percent sure. Thanks.

By Julia M Usher on November 27, 2015

Hi Julia,

I started using the parchment paper technique and love that I don’t need to buy all of these gadgets.  But I would love to figure out how to store my ri in the cones in the freezer?  Can I just Saran Wrap the top and freeze them or is there a technique for doing this so I can just thaw them and use them again?

Thank you

By Shabi on May 15, 2016

Hi, Shabi, I’m not a big fan of freezing leftover icing. Some people do so with success, but I find that my colors never set as stably when I do, so I don’t do it. I imagine the icing wouldn’t freeze well in the parchment cones either, just because the paper is relatively permeable. So I can’t really give you any tested advice here. Best of luck.

By Julia M Usher on May 16, 2016

Hi Julia,

Thank you.  I appreciate the quick response about freezing.  May I ask for your tips on storing colored royal icing?  Can you store it in the parchment bag and then reuse the parchment bag?  Or do you squeeze it out of the bag and then put it in a new bag?  Also how long can colored royal icing be stored in the fridge?

Thanks again for all of your help!

By Shabi Ghaffari on May 16, 2016

Hi, Shabi, My answer is going to be similar to the one I gave you earlier, as I like to use all of my color on the day it’s mixed. Again, for whatever reason, I find that the colors set more stably this way. But if you want to store it overnight, it’s best stored in a bowl covered flush with plastic wrap and then foil. The parchment cones will get soft after prolonged contact with the icing and then the tip will lose shape. Refrigerated icing will be fine for a few days, but it needs to be brought to room temperature before use and also stirred if any separation has occurred (another reason for not storing it in cones). I hope I’ve answered your questions.

By Julia M Usher on May 17, 2016