Serious Eats

Gadgets: Brownie Cup Pan by Wilton

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[Photograph: Surlatable.com]

Given that it's currently for sale for less than $8 at Sur La Table, I thought that the Wilton Brownie Cup Pan may finally be worth adding to my collection. The name is deceiving: It's not so much about brownies as it is about that signature domed dessert shape that can be filled with toppings like strawberry sauce, ice cream, or molten fudge. And while it's certainly not a necessity in any pantry, the brownie cup pan is a fun little toy—albeit one that doesn't perform nearly as well as something so specialized should.

Each of the six little cups in this tray are identical, of course, so imagine my surprise when none of my angel food cakes looked the same coming out. It was the thing that pointed to the pan's first main flaw: it's not nonstick. With a shape that's got to be precise in order to be attractive, that's a pretty big downer. The cakes, in fact, have to be pried out individually with a knife—even with a helping spray of Pam. And what happens when a bit of the brownie cup's lip gets stuck in its mold? Well, messy presentations happen—that's what.

How about the fact that sponges don't fit nicely into the fine grooves at the bottom of the pan, making it a pain to clean? Two strikes. The third: It takes two batches to kill a box mix of cake batter (you'd use it too if you were baking several batches of domed things in a week!), which is impractical even when your apartment isn't the same temperature as the oven.

We all know what three strikes mean—while it doesn't hurt my wallet, this guy's just not worth the space. I'll file this one into the category I call, "only worthwhile with the help of a food stylist," aka, "Would love it if mine came out as pretty as theirs." Sometimes you just learn the hard way.

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