So for those of you who don’t know my mother, let me explain. When my mother finds out you like something she goes out of her way to make sure you have every possible item related to your new-found hobby or interest. When I was in high school I told her I liked leopard print. Shortly thereafter I was the proud owner of leopard print bed sheets, pillows, jewelry boxes, scrunchies (it was high school, give me a break), shoes, photo frames, and even a blow dryer. My bedroom looked like the waiting room of a Thailand massage parlor. So a few years ago when I told her I was really enjoying baking you can imagine what happened at Christmas. Below is a list of baking items I’ve acquired (mostly as gifts from my mother) over the years that I find to be the most helpful in the kitchen. I know there are many other items, but I wanted to highlight my top nine. If I’m missing anything feel free to add it in the comments section!
9. Silicone Spatula
I think most people know that a spatula (or spoonula if you need to scrape and spoon simultaneously) is a necessity in the kitchen. The key is to buy one made of silicone. Silicone is heat, cold and stain resistant so it’s perfect for the professional baker or chef. Also, because it can handle high temperatures you can lean it against a pot and not worry about it melting, making it perfect for the distracted baker or chef too.
8. Light colored aluminum baking sheets
If you’re serious about baking cookies then you need these. I know the dark colored non-stick sheets look super fancy, but they will brown your cookies too quickly and you’ll be left disappointed and alone in your kitchen, with only the hum of your refrigerator to console you. Seriously, get a set of aluminum ones and invest in some parchment paper.
7. Cookie scoop
The cookie scoop is great for making consistently sized, professional looking cookies. It removes the need to roll the dough into balls with your hands, and it’s also great for making meatballs! I have small and medium-sized scoops and will probably get a large-sized scoop for making monster cookies. Pampered Chef makes nice scoops.
Do you want to make caramel? Yes, of course you do. You need a candy thermometer. You can get one that clips to the side of the pot, or you can buy a digital one with a probe that can also be used for cooking meats. I prefer the digital variety because it takes the guess work out of reading the temperature, it doesn’t need to be calibrated and I can set an alarm for the temperature allowing me to focus more on the caramel.
5. Disposable pastry bags
As Oprah would say, Fab-uuuu-lousss! I use these not only for decorating cookies but also for filling my chocolate molds with ganache or caramel. I know technically disposable items are bad for the environment, but with regular pastry bags you waste so much water trying to get them clean that I think it’s an even trade. Buy yourself some tips and a few couplers and you’re all set. Or if you don’t want to be fancy about it just cut the tip off of them to create the opening you need to get the job done.
4. Electric Stand Mixer
When I first started baking I thought I could get away with using my electric hand mixer. I quickly changed my mind after ruining a batch of meringue buttercream and realizing the only way to save it was to use my KitchenAid stand mixer. For those who don’t like that it presses dough onto the side of the bowl, there is a special blade you can buy that scrapes down the sides of the bowl while mixing at the same time. This is a MUST for any serious bakers out there!
3. A big ‘ol bamboo mixing spoon
A big spoon makes things easier when you need to mix nuts or chocolate chips in to a somewhat stiff batter. Bamboo won’t crack or warp. It doesn’t absorb moisture and therefore won’t harbor bacteria (or terrorists). It’s easier on your cookware, and it’s better for the environment. Pampered Chef makes a set that will fulfill most of your kitchen mixing needs.
2. Rubber bottomed mixing bowls
Great if you need to mix the hell out of something. The rubber bottoms keep the bowls from sliding around and potentially dumping all of your dough onto the kitchen floor. My dogs hate them.
1. The Ove-Glove
Now that I have a toddler I can no longer scream expletives in the kitchen when I burn myself on a cookie sheet. And let’s face it; most oven mitts are pretty wimpy. I’ve tried using hot pads but that’s just reckless endangerment of my epidermis. I have two Ove-Gloves and they’re the best – the best I tells ya! You still can’t hold on to hot things forever (unless you’re a guy who drives a Corvette and makes a lot of money), but they make it super easy to rotate cookie sheets and handle hot pots and pans for an extended period of time.
So, there you go. What you need, to do what you need to do. What kitchen item trips your trigger?