We’re getting down to the holiday gift-buying wire here, and while some of you procrastinators are contemplating another set of dish towels for Mom or a “Kiss the Cook” apron for Dad, consider surprising the chefs on your shopping list with something a little more high tech.
We’ve pulled some of our favorite cooking gadgets, fit for any kitchen. Some will make baking Santa’s sugar cookies easier. Some will change the way you think about preparing holiday party appetizers. Some are just down right cool.
The Cadillacs of Coffee Machines
Tall, venti, non-fat, soy, caramel shot, mocha flavoring – coffee as we knew it was transformed years ago and few in the land of Starbucks and the Bean settle for the regular cup o’ Joe these days. So why not bring your loved one’s persnickety coffee preferences home for the holidays.
Following popular coffee maker company Keurig’s example, several latte and espresso machine retailers have shrunk the coffee-making routine from the bag to the individual cup.
The machines are pricy but the payoff is that no longer do coffee drinkers living under one roof have to settle for the same brew. While there are several on the market, ABC News tested out, and were happy with, two of them.
The Verismo, Starbucks’ at-home coffee machine that debuted this fall, comes with custom drink kits, with coffee and milk “pods” and syrups, and recipes for the beloved caramel macchiato or a simple latte. ($149, plus an additional $12 for 12 coffee or espresso pods and $10 for 12 milk pods, Starbucks Store)
The Nespresso Lattissima Plus also creates quality espresso drinks with the touch of a button. Using “capsules” – because coffee now comes retrofitted for astronauts – the Nespresso is easy to use and assemble. It even allows you custom the amount of froth in your latte. ($399, Sur La Table)
Aside from making the morning cup, both are also perfect for hosting those parties where Aunt Joanne only wants decaf but Cousin Mark would prefer an espresso.
Trudeau Graviti Electric Salt and Pepper Mills
Not only are the Trudeau Graviti electric salt and pepper mills super easy to use, they also take the pain out of grinding spices. Plus, they look super sleek.
Made of stainless steel, the battery-operated mills kick on when you simply turn them upside-down. Turn them right side-up and the whirling blades shut off.
It’s perfect for sprinkling a little pepper on your Cesar salad or adding a pinch of salt to chicken breasts. ($39.95, Williams-Sonoma)
Taylor Digital Scale + Measuring Cup in One
For the perfectionist chef or stickler baker on your holiday gift list, the Taylor digital scale and measuring cup in one is a simple yet intuitive product.
Like any other measuring cup, Taylor’s product can measure both liquid and dry ingredients, but the added bonus of the digital scale can automatically convert weight to volume, taking the Googling out of “how to convert ounces to cups.”
In fact, the cups are preset to automatically convert five commonly used baking ingredients — flour, sugar, milk, water and oil — from ounces to cups.
The scale is really what makes this product. Aside from the presets, it can measure liquids in cups, fluid ounces or milliliters, and dry ingredients or solid foods in ounces, pounds or grams. ($39.95, Williams Sonoma)
Belkin iPad Holders: Two Ways
Put that new iPad to use in the kitchen and still get your hands, and not your tablet, dirty.
Belkin has two iPad holders that allow the user to mount the tablet for easy recipe reading and browsing while keeping it out of the way: The Kitchen Cabinet Mount and the Chef Stand and Stylus.
The Kitchen Cabinet Mount uses an adjustable clamp to hold an iPad and iPad 2 up off the counter. the clamp can be repositioned on a cabinet or shelving unit, making it easy to take it down when you are done cooking The best part about the Kitchen Cabinet Mount is it requires no tools to be installed and the mount is removable. ($49.99, Belkin)
But if you think the tech-savvy cook in your life would be nervous about having her iPad tangle over the kitchen counter, there is an alternative option, but you’ll have to stick an “IOU” card in her stocking.
Belkin’s Chef Stand and Stylus is a tabletop stand that can hold ever generation of iPad — from the original to the Mini — both horizontally and vertically. The stylus wand allows you to move the recipe around or look up something new, without putting a cookie dough-covered finger on the screen (both the stylus and the stand can be hand washed with soap). Sadly, it seems to be out of stock at most online retailers now. ($39.99, Belkin)
The Smoking Gun
The Smoking Gun might be more of an “I want that” gift rather than “I need that” gift, but it’s great for those last-minute shoppers looking to give the foodies in their lives something a little different and fun — plus it sure beats the pants off of that new grill set.
PolyScience’s handheld, battery-powered food smoker says it can smoke a variety of foods from meats to chocolate. It uses their own blend of woodchips — some infused with wine or whiskey, others are seeped in dried flowers and spices — which can take flavors to the next level. The Smoking Gun comes with two .5-ounce jars of hickory and apple wood smoking saw dust, but other flavors can be ordered separately.
Think of it: Smoked oysters for your New Years Eve party? Yes please!
The Bar10der: The Ultimate At-Home Bartending Tool
If Inspector Gadget were a bartender, the Bar10der would be the only thing on his tool belt. And it’s small enough to make a great stocking stuffer for the cocktail connoisseur on your list.
With its Swiss Army knife-inspired design, the Bar10der hosts a bar’s worth of tools stuffed into one handle. In case you couldn’t tell by the name, there are 10 tools in all: muddler, stirrer, corkscrew, strainer, bottle opener, jigger, reamer, zester, knife and channel knife – who knew you even needed that?