Okay, I'll admit it. I've developed a bit of a potato chip problem lately. So when my TopChips kit ($23.95) arrived, I might have been a little over-eager to try it. Like, rip the box open, wash, dry, slice, microwave, eat. Just like that.
The kit comes with two stackable silicone trays with holes in them for ventilation, plus a small, non-adjustable mandoline that's set for the right thickness for thin potato chips.
For my first batch, I followed the super-basic instructions to slice the potatoes, make sure they're dry, arrange them on the trays, and microwave them for about three minutes for one tray and one extra minute for a second tray, then 30 seconds longer until the chips were done. With two trays pretty well packed with potato slices (but not overlapping) it took about five minutes to crisp the chips and get a little browning.
The chips were okay but a teeny bit bland. The next batch I soaked in some salted water to rinse off the starch and season the chips a bit. I don't like super-salty chips, but I wanted a little more flavor. And...perfect. I didn't miss the frying-oil flavor at all.
The instructions suggests making chips from carrots, mangoes, apples, sweet potatoes, and pears, besides regular old potato chips. It specifically recommends against beets and basil. I have no idea why.
It it gimmicky? Yeah, a little. But I'm okay with that. What I'm not okay with is how many batches of flavored potato chips I'm likely to make in the future. But they're fat-free, so it's okay, right?
About the author: Resident yeast whisperer and bread baking columnist Donna Currie also has a serious gadget habit. When her father-in-law heard about this column, he upgraded the nickname for her kitchen from "gadget world" to "gadget heaven." You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.
Disclaimer: Testing samples were provided to Serious Eats.