I teach pastry classes in a cookware store, so its easy to make recommendations of products to use. I have a lot of people ask me for advice and recommendations on products which is easy. What I struggle with and am not comfortable with is telling someone to buy something just to get them to buy it. I make no commissions where I teach so when I make a recommendation to someone, its because I use it myself and find it has aided me in my cooking adventures. Below is a growing list of things I love and use regularly:
Parchment Paper I use a lot of parchment paper and I hate the paper that comes rolled up. If I am piping something like French Macarons I need the paper to be nice and flat, so the pre-cut sheets are perfect.
Worthy Liners Half Sheets Parchment Paper Pan Liner – 12″ X 16″, (250 Sheets)
Kitchen Aid Mixer, Professional Series This mixer is made to be used over and over again repeatedly throughout the same day. Its designed to be used in a professional kitchen. I prefer the Professional Series because when I cook, I typically do double batches and the bowl is large enough for that. Its also an excellent mixer if you are making any types of breads or doughs.
KitchenAid KP26M1XNP Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Stand Mixer – Nickel Pearl
Piping Bags Come in two different forms- reusable and disposable. Personally, I hate washing things and its easier to just the bag away and get a new one so I prefer the disposable pastry bags. The major negative of reusable bags for me is that if you use them for buttercream a lot, its hard to get them completely clean overtime because the butter makes them very greasy overtime. There is a time and a place for each pastry bag, as well as the size bag you use. For most things I prefer a larger bag (like the 21-inch) so I can fit all my batter/filling in it. A smaller bag is good for smaller work, or if you are using a small tip. This box is a great purchase for the quantity and price.
DayMark IT115435 12″ PipingPal Disposable Pastry Bag with Dispenser (Roll of 100)
Essential Kitchen Gadgets:
Microplane There is nothing worse than a bad microplane. It should be sharp enough that your zesting/grating is nearly effortless. This happens to be my favorite microplane and its incredibly sharp! There is also nothing wrong with a fun gadget that comes in multiple colors as well!
Microplane 46220 Premium Zester/Grater, Turquoise
Bench Scraper Great for cutting doughs and scooping up veggies after cutting them.
Norpro Vegetable Chopper Stainless Steel Bench Scraper Measuring Guide 6″ x 4″
Bowl Scraper The simplest kitchen tool. Its great to scrape inside your mixing bowl and scrape up every last bit of dough stuck inside.
Chef Craft Dough Scraper, White
Vanilla As Ina Garten always says “use a good vanilla.” Good vanilla makes a world of difference in the overall flavor of your baked goods. There are a three main types of and the two most popular are Madagascar Bourbon vanilla Tahitian vanilla. I prefer the Nielsen-Massey brand of vanilla as its a good quality and now pretty readily available in most stores (no you can not find this in the supermarket. Stop buying your vanilla in the supermarket and splurge on the good stuff)
Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, sadly, have nothing to do with Bourbon. The varietal of bean is referred to as the Bourbon bean and its a bean that is grown in Madagascar. Madagascar coincidentally produces most of the worlds vanilla.
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Tahitian vanilla has amazing flavor and costs a bit more than the Madagascar Bourbon, mainly because its grown in smaller quantities. It can be found grown in the South Pacific.
Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla – 4 oz
One of my favorite items to use if I want to show case my vanilla beans and I don’t want to pay for the actual beans is vanilla bean paste.
Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, 4 Ounce
Cinnamon like vanilla, there hundreds of different types of cinnamon all ranging in different flavor profiles. However there are only four kinds sold commercially: Ceylon, Vietnamese, Cassis and Korinjte. Although the Vietnamese, Cassis and Korinjte are all similarly structured they all have different flavor properties. Cinnamon comes ground or in sticks and if you did not know if, Cinnamon is actually the bark of a tree. I am absolutely obsessed with King Arthurs Vietnamese cinnamon as I love its flavor and boldness.
King Arthur Flour Vietnamese Cinnamon
Chocolate Chocolate is incredibly diverse. You can get single origin beans, with different percentages of cocoa and grown in different places. More commonly, the chocolate you are buying is a combination of different beans to create the flavor profile of that chocolate. My general rule for what is good chocolate is find something you like. There are actually a lot of really good brans of chocolate and I like some better than others, but thats me.
Valrhona Dark Chocolate – 70% Cacao – Guanaja – 6 lbs 9 oz bag of feves
E. Guittard 72% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers
Callebaut Chocolate Discs 60.3%, 2 pound Gold bag
Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chunks, 6 oz