I'm not a natural baker. My sister, however, is fantastic and can quickly rustle up cookies, cakes, cupcakes and sweet treats without ever needing to stop and look at a recipe book. When my daughter started school, they looked for parents to make baked goods to help raise funds to pay for a new playground and other facilities. I wanted to help out their cause by making and decorating my own cupcakes and cookies that could be sold. The only problem was that I'd never done much baking before, so I was at a loss on how to start.
Because I wasn't a confident cook, I began by making cookies. This is about as easy as you can get because they're hard to mess up. The worst that can happen is that they might burn a bit. Complete beginners can buy an easy to use sugar cookie mix although, as I have found over time, they're not hard to make without a packet mix.
At first I wasn't sure how to decorate the cookies, so we made a lot of plain ones that were not all that exciting to look at. I experimented with using graduated cookie cutter sets so I could simply cut away interior sections with a shape. They looked okay. Eventually I plucked up the nerve to start icing them with either melted chocolate or royal icing. I really didn't take to using pastry bags at all and would end up with only a few good cookies and a big mess in the kitchen. As pastry bags were a failure, I looked for something simpler to use for decorating with.
The Kuhn Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set
Browsing through cook stores online, I stumbled across the Kuhn Rikon Cookie and Cupcake Decorating Set and thought it looked promising. I'd never actually seen anyone ice using bottles before but the reviews I read on the set convinced me to buy it and test it out for myself.
The boxed set came with a variety of decorating bottles, both straight and squeeze bottles, nozzles and tips as well as a spatula. The nozzles for the bottles are interchangeable which means that you can used them with any bottle in this range. The straight bottles look like a standard plastic variety and the squeeze type have a funny looking accordion shape which helps you to push the icing out more easily.
The bottles feel nice and are easy to hold. They are so easy that my young daughter had no problems using these. In fact, I would recommend these for children who are into cooking and baking because they seem so much easier to use than the conventional pastry bags. Both kids and adults can get more control over the piping by using the bottles. This means that more decorative designs are achievable. You may struggle to find this particular set for sale but there is a very similar one which I'm showing here.
The decorating set by Betty Crocker is very similar to my bottles and it also features the straight and accordion squeeze style designs.
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How to Decorate Cookies with these Types of Bottles
Straight Versus Accordion Style Bottles
After experimenting, I found that the straight bottles work best for me with melted chocolate because it simply flows out of the plain round tip and I don't need to squeeze. You can make some great looking cookies just by decorating using chocolate. 
Melted chocolate can harden fairly quickly but the great thing about having it in a bottle is that I can melt the chocolate again by taking off the lid and giving it a very quick blast in the microwave. I don't think you're actually meant to do this but it's always worked for me with no issues.
The squeeze or accordion style bottles are the ones I use with icing or frosting because they are super easy to push or squeeze the icing out with. You can experiment with the fancy shaped nozzles and tips if you're using frosting for cupcakes. A frosting will hold the shape given by the nozzle. That is something that is pretty fun for kids to experiment with.
These bottles look difficult to wash out and clean but they're not. I just soak the bottles first in hot, soapy water and then use a bottle brush to clean out the insides. Rinse with clean water and then leave them to air dry.
The Kuhn Rikon Deco Squirt Bottle
Works Brilliantly for Detail Icing on Cakes and Cookies
This is my icing bottle which I have filled with melted chocolate. Having this in a bottle means I can better control the flow of chocolate with the detail nozzle. You can use it to draw designs on cookies and cakes with ease. I found that melted chocolate just flows out nicely. This is my favorite bottle and the one I tend to use the most. If you just want to do some very basic icing and decoration, this may be better than purchasing a whole set.
I discovered a lot on how to ice and decorate cakes and cookies from watching video demonstrations online. You can melt chocolate in various ways but I prefer to use a microwave because it's so quick and easy. Melt it in a microwave proof jug and then once it is liquid, pour the melted chocolate into a straight bottle and it should easily come out of the nozzle without squeezing.
Have Fun Decorating Cookies and Cakes
The decorating bottles allowed me to make cookies and cakes that actually looked pretty decent. No longer having to struggle with piping bags, I found a new enjoyment for baking and decorating. The good news was that I helped my daughter's school raise funds for their new playground which has since been installed. The children love their new climbing and play equipment so all the effort in the kitchen paid off.
Image Credits: The introductory image belongs to the author, Marie Williams Johnstone. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.