If someone said that you had about as much appeal as a toaster, would you be insulted? Not if you’ve seen what today’s toasters-and other small kitchen appliances-look like and how they perform.
You’ll get a charge out of today’s innovative small kitchen appliances. The best ones will save you time, and some may even make you a better cook, plus they all look so handsome that they’re eye candy for your countertop. Color is everywhere, and so are metal finishes. Stainless-steel is still fashionable, but brushed aluminum and warm copper, especially, are moving to the forefront. You’ll also see the influence of contemporary European design in the sleek shapes of things. Sophisticated technology has made it possible to combine the functions of two machines in one dual-purpose appliance. There are options for customizing both their looks and performance, with the professional-level quality offered at the high end. Even many of the most affordable models come with features that are automatic or programmable. And thanks to dishwasher-safe parts and non-stick coatings, cleaning small kitchen appliances is easy, too.
In the Mix
There’s no doubt about it: a stand mixer is an awesome appliance, and displayed on your countertop (if you want) it signals to all that you are a serious cook or baker. If you bake, and particularly if you work with dough, a stand mixer can do most of the work, like kneading, for you. Stand mixers typically come with a bowl, a flat beater, a dough hook, and a wire whip or whisk. Make sure the model you chose can clear the cabinets while the head is in the tilt-up position. Also remember that a heavier machine will be more stable while it’s running. But if you all you need is something to whip potatoes or mix up a batch of brownies, a hand mixer will do.
KitchenAid’s 5-quart stand mixer is a classic. The newest, the Accolade 400 series, has 400-watt motor that can handle mixing 9 cups of flour. It automatically shuts down if the mixing action is obstructed. It comes in an array of fashionable colors, from tangerine to cinnamon to sugar plum; blue willow, pink satin, honeysuckle, lemongrass, and sky have just been added this summer. The MSRP is $329.99. KitchenAid’s Professional 600 series stand mixers can mix 14 cups of flour. Colors include cayenne, brass pearl, bronze pearl, and copper pearl. The MSRP for the 600-watt professional stand mixer is $469.99.
Sunbeam’s Mixmaster is part of the Heritage series, another coordinated line of countertop appliances. It’s available for $199.99, and comes with a 450-watt motor, 12 variable speeds, and three-way mixing action. Available colors include white, charcoal, silver, and red.
Blenders and Juicers: From Soup to Nuts
In general, a blender is great for pureeing foods and crushing ice-that’s why they make good soups and smoothies. Power and performance can vary among models, which may offer anywhere from three to 16 speeds. Theoretically, the higher the wattage-300 to 500 watts is the standard-the more powerful the machine. When you’re comparing models, the types of foods you prepare should be your guide, as should looks if you’ll use this appliance often and keep it handy on the countertop.
The new Wave Logic blender from Hamilton Beach thoroughly pulverizes fruit, vegetables, and or ice by forcing it down into the blades for thoroughly blending minus chunks. Plus it looks good. The 56-ounce plastic jar looks like glass (it’s 50-percent thicker than typical plastic blender jars) and comes in Caribbean Blue. The 10-speed, 600-watt model (50644) has an MSRP of $39.99; the 12-speed, 700-watt model (52644) has an MSRP of $44.99.
Hamilton Beach’s Wave Station blender has a side spout that dispenses easily liquid, a cup at a time, from the large jar. The spout is detachable for easy cleaning. The 10-speed, 700-watt model (50754) has an MSRP of $49.99; the MSRP for the 12-speed, 750-watt model (52754) is $59.99.
Tribest’s single-serve personal blender is portable and lets you crush ice, grind coffee beans, and make sauces, soups, and smoothies. The 200-watt appliance features two function modes: short pulse and continuous. It comes with two 16-ounce blender cups, two 8-ounce grinder cups, and four lids. Model PB-200 weighs just 3.7 pounds and has an MSRP of $79.99.
For other small jobs, a hand blender may be all you need. Cuisinart’s smart stick, model CSB-77, comes with 200 watts of power, push-button controls for continuous blending or pulsing, and a stainless-steel blending attachment, whisk attachment, and chopper attachment. Stylish in stainless-steel housing, this compact appliance can sit right next to the cooktop. The MSRP is $75.
If you only want juice, Bosch offers a 100-watt brushed aluminum citrus juicer, model MCP 9110 UC, for $229.99. It comes with a turbo button that triples the speed of the motor to extract the maximum amount of fruit. The appliance’s closed spout lets you pour juice directly into a glass without dripping.
The Juice Fountain model JE 900 by Breville is a heavy-duty unit with a 600-watt professional motor. It can juice five carrots in seconds. The appliance has a stainless-steel mesh filter basket that separates seeds and fiber from juice, and the container will separate the juice from the froth. There is a safety interlocking switch that stops the motor if the cover is not locked in place. Removable parts make this juicer easy to clean. The MSRP is $169.99.
Toast, Toast, and More Toast
You don’t need to spend much for a toaster that will give you bread browned the way you like it. Beyond good performance, you may want more, such as the ability to toast four slices at a time or bagels, hamburger rolls, and muffins. You may also want a high-style designer color or one of the new metallic finishes. If you want a multipurpose appliance-one that can bake, broil, or heat frozen foods, and save space-new toaster ovens offer versatility. Here’s what’s happening.
Oster’s new Inspire line of appliances offers their own artisan version of 2- and 4-slice toasters that lets you toast outside the loaf, with seven settings and individual controls for “toast,” “warm,” and “frozen.” Match the toaster to your kitchen decor by choosing copper or red with black accents or brushed stainless steel with black or white accents. The MSRP for the 2-slice model is $39.99; for the 4-slice mode, $49.99.
For toasting and cooking, KitchenAid‘s new 0.5-cubic-foot countertop oven can bake, broil, and warm, too, with oven temperatures that go as high as 475 degrees F. The Teflon-nonstick interior can be wiped clean, and the oven rack, broil pan, grill insert, and crumb drawer are all dishwasher safe. Available in Empire Red or Onyx Black with a brushed stainless-steel front and door frame, the oven’s MSRP is $149.99.
But you’re really cookin’ when you cook with steam in Sharp’s new superheated countertop steam oven. Model AX-700, provides the benefits of steam cooking to a wider variety of foods that are roasted, grilled, or baked in the oven. The oven has 10 settings; for example, the Super Roast function can prepare a chicken that is moist inside but has crispy skin even though no fat is added during the cooking process. Plus, the superheated steam drains away liquid fat produced by the skin. The MSRP for the oven is $1,399.99.
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