You don’t need tons of gadgets and whatsits that fill your kitchen drawers! Here is my list of equipment that I’ve found is necessary in the kitchen (links on name):
- Digital Scale-The MOST important item you can buy is a digital scale. I bought Ozeri’s digital scale back in 2015 purely because of how cheap and highly rated it was on Amazon. Game changer. Pretty much everywhere EXCEPT in the United States the metric system is used in recipes. What that means is ingredients are measured in grams, milliliters…etc., whereas the U.S. measure by cups or teaspoons/tablespoons. I honestly don’t know why someone changed it that way-it’s highly inaccurate.
When you use a digital scale to measure your ingredients, you know you’re getting a 100% accurate amount of what you need. For example, if a recipe calls for one large egg, the size of the egg you have at home compared to what was actually used in the recipe can easily vary and is rarely the same weight. Having the recipe measure it in grams allows you to get the exact amount the author was intending. In macarons, having too much of an egg (white) ruins the entire batch, either making it too runny or too thick, thus the need to use a scale.
- Electric mixer-I don’t know where I’d be without my Kitchen Aid. Yes, they’re expensive, BUT, you will use it ALL the time. Electric mixers are so much stronger than a hand mixer, and the possibilities are endless with what you can make. Homemade marshmallows or Italian meringue buttercream, for example, are both recipes a hand mixer has a hard time with.
- Sifter #1/Sifter #2-I never thought sifting flour, powdered sugar, baking soda or baking powder was necessary until I seriously got into baking, even though it’s really common sense. You want a smooth frosting? Sift your powdered sugar (and have room temp butter). Want macarons that don’t have bumps in them? Double sift your almond flour and powdered sugar. There is so much moisture in the air, and all it does is form hard little lumps that sneak into your baking! Sifting is extremely important also because it adds air into the sugar or flour, which makes your recipe lighter and fluffier. Seriously. Sifting makes the outcome of whatever you’re making better.
- Food processor-Tim and I got two food processors for our wedding, one large and one mini, and I can’t believe I lived without them before! I’ve used them to make hazelnut cream, almond butter, chop chocolate, finely mix almond flour/powdered sugar for macarons, mix dough for pie crust, make ice cream, hummus, chop herbs…etc. Seriously, if you don’t have a food processor, get one. It saves so much time, especially in baking.
- Spatula-A heat-resistant spatula is extremely important in baking, especially when working with sugars. I bought two sets of these, one for daily use and one specifically for baking. One reason I like this specific kind is most of the time when you buy a spatula, the end is pretty flexible. These are stiff, which is what I prefer when baking. Another reason I really like these is because they are one piece, not two. Two-piece spatulas get so dirty on the inside and are a lot harder to clean and dry. I’ve also had the pieces come apart during a critical time when making macarons…never again…
- Parchment paper-There is great debate over silpat vs. parchment paper. Personally, I feel that silpat spreads cookies more, and they also retain strong flavors. With silpat, you have to use hot water and soap to get the excess grease off from butter or whatever oils you’ve used (sometimes I feel like that doesn’t even work), but parchment paper you just throw away :). I’ll use silpat for making toffee or candy, but parchment paper wins for everything else. I’ve also had the best luck with consistently perfect macarons on brown parchment paper. Weird? Yes. I don’t use white parchment paper anymore, only nonbleached brown parchment paper. There is also precut parchment paper you can buy, which would be amazing.
- Half sheet aluminum pan-I bought these after reading many blogs about macarons and how lighter colored pans were better to use. These don’t warp over time, they’re easy to clean, and they won’t rust. The macaron recipe I use needs four half sheets, but I have five just in case. One mind-boggling issue I’ve had with them is at Christmas time and Christmas time only. For my sugar cookie recipe and that recipe only, I use a darker cookie sheet because the aluminum pan makes the cookies spread more. It’s only that recipe, which is so weird! So yes, I keep a darker cookie sheet just for Christmas :).
- Stainless Steel Mixing bowls-I can’t stress how important it is to buy stainless steel when buying mixing bowls. Every other type of bowl collects scents from what you make; however, these do not. The last thing you want is to get an onion-y taste in a macaron…
- 8-inch whisk and 10-inch whisk-I have two whisks. The 8-inch whisk is ideal for making custards, caramels, sauces…etc. I love it because it’s the perfect size to easily access all parts of a sauce pan. That may seem kind of silly because don’t all whisks do that? No. The 8-inch’s tip is pointier, which gets into the sides of the pan better. That is extremely important when making caramels for example, because if you don’t continuously stir the caramel everywhere, including under the candy thermometer, you’ll get little burnt globs of caramel that have cooked too quickly, ruining your batch. The 10-inch whisk is by far the heaviest whisk I’ve owned; however, that weight makes it easier when having to whisk for extended periods of time.
- Measuring cups/spoons-We upgraded our measuring cups and spoons to stainless after having had plastic ones that kept breaking. The measuring cups handle isn’t super long, and it’s the perfect fit for your thumb. I just love the feel of them. The rectangular size of the spoons is absolutely fantastic because it fits in all spice jars!