By the time you're done reading BraveTart, you'll not only know how to make Stella's favorite brownies (or Little Debbie's favorite Oatmeal Creme Pies), you'll have been sufficiently schooled in the underlying science and technique to be able to make your own favorite brownies, whether you like them fudgy or cakey (and, because of Stella's infectious infatuation with history, you'll note that the cake-fudge paradigm shift occurred sometime in 1929). Where Willy Wonka relied on magic to bring his creations to life, Stella relies on science, history, and fanatical testing and devotion to her craft. This is good news for us. You have to be born with magic, but science, history, and technique are lessons we can all learn.
Docking provides steam vents so doughs lie flat. Sure, you could stab your raw pizza dough a thousand times with a fork. Or you could just give it a quick pass with this tool, perforating the whole thing quickly, evenly, and perfectly. It's also our favorite way to dress up cookie and cracker doughs, as the uniformly spaced polka dots add an undeniably professional touch to treats like chocolate-filled shortbread cookies, DIY Wheat Thins, and chocolate digestive biscuits.
Homemade ice cream tastes better than almost anything you can buy in a store, and it's a snap to make. This ice cream maker, from Cuisinart, is all the gear you need: an easy-to-use workhorse that makes delicious ice cream every time. The simple construction means that there are few moving parts to break, and the wide mouth at the top makes it easy to add mix-ins and scoop out your ice cream when it's at its fresh, creamy best.
Level up this year's pecan pie by giving the bakers in your family or social circle a big bag of fat and buttery wild pecans. Their freshness, flavor, and tender texture will ruin everyone for those limp and withered supermarket brands.
It's almost impossible to find good-quality Dutch cocoa in supermarkets, so make it easy for your favorite baker to whip up the best possible chocolate treats. This cocoa powder is unusually dark, with an earthy chocolate flavor for out-of-control brownies, devil's food cake, and ice cream.
This All-Clad model features extra-deep divots for maximum syrup capacity, makes two small waffles at a time, and contains a drip tray for minimizing spills and messes. The heavy stainless steel body and plates heat up quickly and evenly for consistent browning. The machine is compact in size and features cord storage and locking handles, making it easy to tuck away into any cabinet or on any shelf.
Whether we're making a lattice-top pie, a batch of homemade Biscoff, or fresh ravioli, it's amazing how much a fluted pastry wheel can spruce up simple strips of dough.
A stand mixer is obviously great for mixing batters and doughs, but we also love the range of KitchenAid attachments available for purchase—once you have the base, there's suddenly a whole world of homemade sausages, ice creams, pastas, and fresh juices at your fingertips.
A combo cooker is the key to getting a gorgeous shattering crust on homemade bread. It acts as its own little steam chamber, like what you'd find in a professional bread oven, and it costs way less than a kitchen renovation.
These fluted cookie cutters add flair to any basic cookie.
Whether you're baking cakes from scratch or from a mix, giving the batter more room to grow will minimize doming, for thicker, more level layers. Light, reflective metal also minimizes browning to keep the cake crust delicate and pale. Because the pans are nonreactive, they can also be used with poke cakes that involve acidic liquids, like lemon juice.
A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. This one comes with an easy-to-clean, removable stainless steel weighing surface; great accuracy and precision; and a backlit pull-out display to make measuring easy, even for large or unwieldy items.
Sorghum syrup is made from the pressed juice of sorghum grass, which grows prominently throughout the American South. This amber-colored syrup has a unique, nutty flavor that's both sweet and savory. And since the 1960s, the Guenther family of Muddy Pond, Tennessee, has been making some of the best.
For the baker who has it all, embossed rolling pins can make even the most traditional shortbread seem exciting again. We love this large, open paisley pattern so much. Its design works well with many styles of dough, so it's a great starting point before you experiment with pins that have a more intricate pattern.
We can't fathom decorating a birthday cake without this sturdy, heavy-bottomed stand. It speeds the process of crumb coating and decoration, while allowing for a whole new array of finishing techniques. It can also double as a lazy susan on the dinner table, piled with condiments and toppings, even when there's no cake in sight.
The Breville produced crispy brown waffles the fastest and with the most consistent color of all the batches we tested, making it the best option if you prefer thinner waffles. Although it makes only one waffle at a time, it reheats and cooks rapidly, so you can crank out waffle after waffle with ease. The built-in drip tray, nonstick surface, and minimal design keep cleanup effortless.
I don't mind baking with supermarket chocolate bars, but for snacking, I'd rather spring for the good stuff. If you're a "bite of dark chocolate after dinner" kinda person (which means every bite needs to count), that's where this stack of single-origin chocolates comes in. It's a fun way to explore the world of chocolate, and learn how different beans and countries of origin can impact its taste.
A good bench scraper is one of those tools people don't think they need until they start using it. We use it for everything from transferring chopped vegetables or herbs from one place to another, to portioning dough, to giving our cutting boards a quick clean.
There are a lot of artisanal jams out there, some good and some grossly overpriced. Though we've tasted hundreds of them, we still haven't had any as good as those made by Oakland's June Taylor, who has been making what she calls "conserves" out of superb Northern California produce for more than 25 years now. The Dapple Dandy pluot conserve tastes like you're taking a bite out of the juiciest pluot in the world, with just enough acidity to offset the sweetness.
Forget flowers—they'll be dead by the end of the week. These flower waters, on the other hand, will last (most of) a lifetime. Both rose and orange flower water will stay good just about forever on the shelf, and a drop or two is all that's needed to give any recipe an aromatic boost. Try a splash of rose water with a strawberry or rhubarb dessert, or orange flower water in a classic New York cheesecake, where its gentle perfume can work wonders.
If you've ever been given a homemade birthday cake, return the favor by buying your favorite baker this iconic cake stand. Its heavy base keeps cakes secure and makes all types of decorating techniques a breeze.
These thin chocolate disks have a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a complex, pleasantly fruity bitterness. But it's the scattered cacao nibs on top that take them from memorable to exceptional. The crunchy bits of bean are toasty and flavorful in their own right, but Recchiuti goes the extra mile, tossing them in caramel and fleur de sel for a brightly salty-sweet finish that electrifies each bite.
A good ice cream scoop is worth keeping in your kitchen utensil drawer. This one works for both right and left hands, and features a specially designed handle that transfers heat into the scoop, helping it slide into more solid ice cream without too much trouble.
With their smooth surface and cool temperature, marble pastry slabs are a baker's best friend. They're great for rolling out pie crusts, laminating doughs, and tempering chocolate. This marble version is pretty enough (albeit heavy) to use as a serving platter.
Trying to get your mom to finally write down all those family recipes? This sleek Moleskine journal will get her organized and become a precious family heirloom in the process.
This epic set of stainless steel pastry tips is perfect for the home baker with professional-grade aspirations...or the food-enthused, arts-and-craftsy kid in your life. With this kit in hand, nothing but practice stands between you and gorgeous piped flowers, leaves, stars, and beyond.
The Magimix impressed us with each slicing, chopping, grating, and pureeing test we tossed at it, especially with pizza dough, which it combined so well no additional kneading was required.
SAF instant dry yeast is our go-to for every type of baking project: pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, waffles, and more. Unlike active dry yeast, it’s super stable and won’t lose potency over time, nor does it need to be rehydrated for use. Buy a pound now and store it in the freezer—it will last for years to come, and produce superior results in all your favorite recipes.