From Season 11: Desserts with an English Accent
Our favorite food processor is a heavyweight at 12 pounds, which means it’s especially stable under stress (such as when kneading bread dough). Other models can turn food into mush, but this one chops and slices cleanly and evenly. It also features a useful mini-bowl and operates even with its feed tube plunger removed, which allows for continuous feeding.
In the test kitchen, our preference for making the smoothest purees is a blender. It has numerous blades at different angles, and has less space than a food processor workbowl, so the pureeing efficiency is optimized.
Our last full test of blenders included crushing ice, making fresh-fruit smoothies and hummus, and testing noise output and efficiency. The winner has four steeply angled blades, a large, tough 56-ounce, polycarbonate jar with the tapered shape we prefer, and a heavy base. But if you want to save some money and don’t mind slightly slower blending times (almost 2 minutes to fully breakdown fruit in smoothies), we were also pleased with the performance of our runner-up. It has six angled blades (two of which are serrated) and simple dial controls with pulse, low, and high speeds. It was also the quietest blender of all the models we tested.
Why bother with a smaller appliance to serve the same function as a blender? Not only are immersion blenders great for small mixing jobs like blending salad dressings and whipping small measures of cream, but they save on time, effort, and cleanup. There’s no need to blend in batches and, if you have the right model, it’s easy to rinse off and toss back into the drawer, where it takes up little space because it’s so small.
In tests of pureeing soup, making smoothies and pesto, and whipping cream, one inexpensive product emerged as our top choice among eight competitors, even besting the winner of our last test about five years ago. It’s comfortable to hold and works efficiently, and its detachable, dishwasher-safe shaft makes it easy to clean.
A hand mixer is a good alternative to a stand mixer if you don’t make bread (or if you knead it by hand), bake only on occasion, or have a small kitchen or budget. They’re compact, simple to clean, and great for lighter jobs such as beating egg whites, making whipped cream (especially in small amounts), and whisking ingredients that are warming over a double boiler.
Our favorite model emerged as the clear winner in a testing of seven hand mixers. Its open wire beaters don’t trap material as they blend (as beaters with a central post tend to do). It’s powerful enough to whip and beat almost as quickly as a stand mixer, and its extra-low speed let us incorporate light ingredients without spraying them everywhere. The motor is quiet, and the simple digital controls, separate beater-release lever, and contoured handle made this mixer a pleasure to use.
If you’re an enthusiastic baker you’ll definitely appreciate the help of a strong standing mixer for doughs, batters, creaming butter and sugar, and whipping. Our two favorite top-of-the-line, money-no-object standing mixers are both excellent across-the-board performers with large capacity bowls. They share the same type of mixing motion called “planetary action,” wherein the bowl remains stationary and the beater rotates on its axis around the bowl, which makes for more efficient mixing.
One of our favorites can plow through 4 cups of stiff dough quickly and efficiently, and has a large, well-designed bowl that makes both scraping and adding ingredients easy. Our other preferred model has modern features like a digital timer with automatic shut-off, a fold function for incorporating ingredients delicately, and a splash-guard attachment with a built-in feed tube.
One of the biggest problems plaguing home cooks is dull knives. In a recent test of 18 manual and electric knife sharpeners, our testers felt that one model produced the sharpest, finest, most polished edge. It has spring-loaded angle guides, large grinding wheels, and was the quietest of all the electrics. Also, it’s exceptionally easy to use—and worth every penny.
Victorinox (formerly Victorinox Forschner) 6-inch Straight Boning Knife: Flexible
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
|★ ★ ★||★ ★ ★||$19.95|
Wüsthof Classic Boning Knife
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasnt sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|★ ★||★ ★ ★||$99.95|
|Recommended with Reservations|
Mundial Boning Knife: Flexible
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
|★ ★||★ ★||$19.95|
Shun Gokujo Filet Knife
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
MAC Boning KnifeChef Series
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
Messermeister San Moritz Elite Flexible Boning Knife
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.