Published July 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
Want to make crispy, fresh ice cream cones at home? Try one of these ice cream cone makers.
The best homemade ice cream is worlds better than any store-bought stuff, so how about serving it in homemade cones, too? We tested two ice cream cone makers, by Chef’s Choice ($49.95) and Smart Planet ($29.99), which look and work just like electric waffle irons. We made up a batch of fresh waffle cones in each and compared their flavor, texture, and shape to our favorite supermarket waffle cones by Joy. To use the makers, you spoon batter (a recipe is provided by the manufacturer) into the center of the preheated, nonstick iron. After about a minute, you remove the browned wafer, quickly roll it around the cone-shaped plastic mold (included), and pinch the tip to prevent leaks. The cone hardens within seconds.
Both machines were fast, easy to use, and made crisp, professional-looking cones that had a much better taste and texture than the store-bought cone. The Chef’s Choice, which features a color-control knob, gave more even browning and didn’t require oiling before each use. The Smart Planet, though its pattern was prettier, produced slightly blotchy cones and required a liberal application of cooking spray or oil before each use or the cones stuck. A channel around the edge of the Chef’s Choice captures excess batter, for easier cleanup; the Smart Planet didn’t have one, so batter spilled down its sides, leaving us trying to scrape baked-on batter out of the latch and hinges. It may have a much lower price, but the Smart Planet machine also seems cheaply constructed, so for ease of use and consistent results, we preferred the Chef’s Choice waffle-cone maker. It’s pricey and certainly not an essential kitchen gadget, but if you want fresh, tasty cones, the Chef’s Choice set makes it quick and easy.