Here are my picks for the hot new products that really work from the 2012 International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago.
Demarle at Home, used with permission.
You're probably familiar with Demarle Silpat baking mats and have come to love them like me. But I've been waiting for the Roul'Pat to be available to the home cook in a noncommercial size (half-sheet-pan size) for a long time and now here it is. This mat is designed for kneading and rolling pastry dough, cookie dough, pie dough, even clay. How does it differ from the Silpat? Roul’Pat is a non-stick countertop workstation that you can also bake on. It doesn't slide around when you roll product on it. It stays in place and nothing sticks to it. You will probably have to lightly flour your rolling pin, but otherwise, it's my new best friend. The downside is that you cannot cut on the mat (with a pizza cutter or cookie cutters). Still if you flip the rolled-out dough onto a piece of parchment or cookie sheet and peel off the Roul'Pat, you can cut to your heart's content.
I have lots of cabinets above my kitchen work space and that can cause pockets of darkness, especially at night, even with all the lights on. I've tried those stick-on lights before. You know, the ones that operate by pushing the globe on or off? They simply don't cut it. Enter the Energizer Under Cabinet Light. It's my new eye saver. This 12-inch LED electric strip of lighting provides powerful illumination that operates with a switch and is easy to install (no hardwiring required). You can link up to seven strips. You can use the strips anywhere, including bathrooms, workshops, etc. I'm in love.
Mastrad, used with permission.
Those pretty pastel French macarons are all the rage right now but do you have trouble piping out just the right amount of batter for consistently sized cookies? Well, the Mastrad Macaron Pastry Sheet makes things a lot easier. The silicone sheets come in small and large macaron sizes. The ridges contain the batter for nice round macarons, meringues, cream puffs, and even cookies. And the silicone makes turning out the finished product without sticking a snap. A recipe is included but you might also like to check out what I consider to be the macaron bible -- "Les Petits Macarons" by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride (Running Press, 2011).
Baby Cakes, used with permission.
When I first saw the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker in stores about a year ago, I thought, "Come on, how lazy can we get?" But now I'm eating my words. After preparing cake pops the traditional way, I have to admit this little machine cuts down on some of the steps. The kit comes with a stand, sticks, two-pronged fork and recipes. The downside of the machine is that it's very hot to the touch, so little hands would definitely need supervision, and I like the flavor of traditional cake pops better. For more recipes, check out "175 Best Babycakes Cake Pops Recipes" by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss (Robert Rose Inc., 2012). Moore and Wyss participated in the development and testing of the Babycakes Cake Pop Maker for Select Brands and then wrote this book with recipes for sweet and savory foods, appetizers, even booze pops for adults, showing how versatile it is.
Wilton.Com, used with permission.
I love to use fondant, gum paste, pastillage and modeling chocolate to embellish my cakes, gingerbread houses, cookies and other pastry creations. I always made them freehand, but things have gotten a lot easier with Wilton's Fondant and Gum Paste Molds. They come in a variety of shapes that pop out easily from the silicone molds.
Natural Home Products, used with permission.
This set of recycled stainless steel nesting pots and pans from Natural Home had me at hello. The Eazistore line is just that -- easy to store. And in my kitchen, with all the gadgets I own, space is a valuable commodity. The nine-piece cookware set, which includes 1-quart, 2-quart and 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 10-inch and 12-inch skillet, and a bamboo slotted spoon, nestle inside one another so the whole shebang is only 9 inches high. They're scratch-resistant, oven and dishwasher-safe and can be used on induction cooktops. It's pretty green, too -- made of 50% recycled materials in a plant that uses wastewater recycling systems, natural light instead of electric fixtures, and produces a line that conumes about 50 percent less energy per item to ship.
Haan, used with permission.
Haan steam cleaners come in every size from handheld to canister types and all at affordable prices (models range from $59.95 to $179.95). I have extensive tile in my home and my kitchen floor and countertops are constantly splattered with food as my students and I whip up new and tasty creations. I'm always worried about contamination from eggs or meat juices but I am reluctant to use chemical and aerosol cleaning products. Enter the Haan steam machines that clean green -- no detergents are needed. The powerful 212-degree steam sanitizes and cleans in one fell swoop. And they can also be used on furniture, mattresses, windows, mirrors, bathrooms, clothing, and carpet. The sky's the limit.
The Curtis Stone Kitchen Solutions line of kitchenware is a class act from the sleek design to the functionality to the beautiful packaging. But expect to pay for this beauty. The upside is that the quality means it should last a lifetime and would make a much-valued wedding shower gift. I tried the stainless steel Grind It Salt and Pepper Mill, the Workbench Cutting Board, and the Hold Me Mixing Bowl Set made of melamine. The only complaints I have are that the plastic bowls are not designed for the microwave (they get blisteringly hot but there are ceramic versions of the bowls that would work in a microwave) and the measurement markings (which are in metric and American) on the inside of the bowls are hard to read, and that the workbench adds considerable height to your countertop or table, so short people might have to stand on a stool to be at the right height for chopping! Best of all, since Stone is intimately involved with the design of his tools, he takes criticisms like mine to heart and tries to incorporate revisions in subsequent production. I like that.
The Corkcicle is a tube that is designed to keep white wines chilled and bring room-temperature reds down to a more suitable "cellar" temperature. You place the Corkcicle in the freezer to chill and then you pour off a tiny bit of wine so it won't overflow when you insert the Corkcicle into the bottle's opening in place of the cork. The wine gets to the right temperature in minutes. It's great for when unexpected wine-drinking guests show up on your doorstep! They'll think you have your own wine cellar.