After a busy day, nothing will perk you up like a freshly baked cupcake. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to make it to a bakery before they close to pick up that cupcake – especially if that bakery is across town and you have to fight traffic to get there. Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills is making it easy for cupcake-lovers to get their fix 24 hours a day by introducing a cupcake ATM. The ATM works just like the machines that dispense electronics and other non-cash goods, where you can input a credit card and select your cupcake of choice. Each one comes out individually wrapped in a cupcake box, looking just as good as it would if you had walked up to the counter. The machine is also going to dispense Sprinkles merchandise, including their cupcake mixes, and cupcake-shaped dog treats.
The ATM is scheduled to officially open for business in just a couple of weeks. It will restocked every couple of hours (and before closing) with fresh cupcakes and will start by offering eight of their most popular cupcake flavors, including red velvet. The plan is to slowly increase the options that the machine offers, and even to make the yet-to-be-launched Sprinkles Ice Cream available from the machine! If it’s a success, you can bet that the cupcake ATMs will make their way to other Sprinkles stores outside of Los Angeles, too.
Now, I have to say that the other way to get a 24 hour cupcake fix is by baking your own cupcakes (even if you use a cupcake mix!), but I do love the novelty of a cupcake ATM and would definitely swing by to see it in action and pick up a single cupcake if I were in the mood for one.
There are new kitchen gadgets coming out all the time. Improvements – or changes, at the very least – are made to kitchen staples like graters and can openers. New materials are added, designs are streamlined and bright colors enhance old fashioned looks. Many of these new and improved gadgets are touted as “must haves” and at Consumer Reports (February 2012), they wanted to determine which of a new crop of kitchen gadgets were actually “must haves.” CR worked directly with readers to find out what new kitchen gadgets they used and put them to the test, looking for improved functionality and design features that were good enough to justify replacing an outdated version of these tools.
- Favorite new garlic press: Oxo Good Grips Garlic Press. Testers liked the large chamber, built-in press cleaner and found it easy to use and handle. It outperformed different styles of garlic presses and was easy to clean.
- Favorite new peeler: Kyocera Ceramic Peeler. This peeler has a blade with an adjustable orientation that was easy for both left- and right-handers to use. The ceramic blade was ultra-sharp, making peeling easy, and won’t need much maintenance long-term to maintain that sharpness.
- Favorite new grater: Oxo Good Grips Box Grater. Box graters can be bulky, but this one made up for that extra storage space by being easy to use and handle, with a soft, comfy grip. Multiple grating surfaces and a storage container with measurement markings came in handy.
- Favorite new can opener: Oxo Magnetic Locking Can Opener. This can opener locks onto cans while you open them and has a magnet that holds the lid in place, preventing it from falling into your product as you open the can. The traditional overall design meant that it was practical and easy to use, too.
- Favorite new zester: ZestNest: This zester/grater has a built-in storage container that measures up to 1/3 cup, a very sharp blade and a bright, citrus-inspired design. It also has a lid that allows you to use the container for slightly longer-term storage. (Full review here)
Consumer Reports didn’t have good results with the Joseph Joseph 2-in-1 Rotary Peeler, which was large and awkward to handle, the Chrfn’ Garlic Zoom XL, which was very difficult to clean, or KitchenAid’s Cup Grater, which had an unstable design that required two hands to secure.
The DoneRight Kitchen Timer is a nifty little gadget that allows you to keep track of everything that you’re cooking and baking in your oven all at the same time. The timer looks like a miniature range and has five different digital timers built into it: one for each of the burners and one for the oven. This design – aside from being cute – really allows you to keep track of what you’re cooking because you can set the timer that corresponds to your cooking surface. An alarm sounds and each the timers will light up with a bright blue light when the time is up, so you won’t mistake which timer went off, either.
For everyday cooking and baking, you might not need this many timers – although it is certainly nice to have the option for the times when you do. This type of great around the holidays, when you’re preparing big meals and have more dishes cooking than you normally do. The timer comes in several colors and, while you might not be able to match your range or other kitchen appliances exactly, you should be able to pick out a color that will coordinate with your kitchen and add a nice little accessory, as well as a useful timer.
Generally, whisks that are large and have many, well spread-out wires are the most effective for mixing batters because they can get through the batter to incorporate all of the ingredients quickly and easily. Tovolo’s Better Batter Whisks break this tradition to some degree. The colorful silicone whisks are not large and have relatively few “wires,” but they have an unusual design that combines a whisk and a spatula that makes their whisks very effective. The idea is very much like the idea behind bowl-scraping silicone paddles for stand mixers: the ends of the whisk have thick, blade-like silicone extensions that add a folding motion along with the usual action of a whisk. This allows the batter to come together faster, with fewer strokes of the tool, and should create a more tender batter (for pancakes, for instance) than your average whisk might. Those blades also scrape the sides of the bowl as you mix your batter, just about eliminating the need to use a separate spatula for the same job.
The whisks can be used for mixing just about anything, not just for baking applications. They can be used to whip up fluffy scrambled eggs and to whisk sauces and puddings on the stove top, as the silicone is heat resistant to 600F and is gentle enough to use in nonstick pans.
Layer cakes are notoriously difficult to slice and serve if you want to keep the slices looking their best. After the cake has been sliced, you typically need to slide a small spatula or even a pie server underneath the wedge of cake and try to transfer it to a waiting dessert plate. The multi-layer slices of cake often shift around, needing to be held in place with a steadying finger or two, or land on their sides when they tip over after being pushed off the spatula. Unless a cooking show is being filmed in your home (or you’re a food blogger who takes a lot of photos!), it’s not critical to ensure that every slice of that cake looks perfect – but I know that when I spend a lot of time and effort decorating a cake, I want every piece to look as good as possible. This is where The Cake Knife might come in handy.
This knife is made of an unusual type of resin (Ultem, which is often used in making medical instruments and is actually used to make some guitar picks, as well), which is nonstick, as well as heat and stain resistant. It has a wide, flat blade that is just 4.75 inches long and 3 inches high- an ideal size for cutting into 8 and 9-inch round layer cakes. In short, the knife can slice through a two l or three ayer cake without getting cake stuck all over the blade, then you can use the large, flat blade of the knife to lift that slice easily onto a waiting plate.