Valentine's Day Gifts

Find the perfect gift for the food lover in your life.

This isn't your standard hot cocoa. It's a rich drinking-chocolate mix, made from organic, 74% cacao single-plantation chocolate from the Dominican Republic and 68% cacao wild-harvested chocolate from Bolivia. Whisk the ground chocolate with warm milk for an intense cocoa experience: It's silky and deep, with hints of orange zest, cinnamon, and juicy berries, tempered by a subtly bitter edge.

Forget those puny kitchen torches designed to make crème brûlée for ants. If you want some serious torching power in the kitchen, for putting the final touch on fancy desserts or for finishing off a sous vide steak, you want a high-output torch like this one. You'll get a deeper char than you'll ever be able to get from using a skillet alone.

The Instant Pot Duo60 is a fantastic value and performed almost as well as the top pick among countertop pressure cookers we tested. It's easy to use, the company has a reputation for great customer service, and there's an avid and helpful community of users online to boot.

For our money, this is the best carving knife on the market, ready to dispatch a roast turkey, leg of lamb, or bone-in ham with aplomb.

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.

No pasta machine? No problem. This book is devoted to the art of handcrafted Italian dumplings, from yeasty, spindle-shaped cecamariti to classic gnocchi to golden-brown parallelograms of deep-fried crescentine. If the adage "practice makes perfect" fills you with excitement rather than dread, this is the kind of book that will make you utterly determined to prevail.

Fizz fiends will delight in having a soda-maker at home. It means sparkling water (and your homemade concoctions of choice) any time you want it. For an extra $50, you can upgrade to the Power Source, which allows you to choose your carbonation level at the touch of a button.

This book is, and possibly always will be, the go-to English-language source on regional Italian cooking, and for good reason: Hazan was deeply knowledgable, exacting, and opinionated, as all good Italian cooks should be.

This remarkable book, from Martin and Rebecca Cate of San Francisco's Smuggler’s Cove, traces the birth and evolution of exotic drinks and tiki bars—bars that embodied an American escapist fantasy. A lively exploration of our country's drinking history (and the current tiki scene), it's essential reading for rum lovers, offering the best categorization we've encountered of the head-spinningly diverse spirit. The mai tai recipe is great, too.

We prefer to use a Boston shaker over a three-piece metal cobbler set, which has a tendency to seize up. Boston shakers open easily, they're relatively inexpensive, and even if the mixing glass breaks, you can replace it for cheap. Using a Boston does require you to have a separate strainer, but that means you can choose a strainer that'll do the job well.

Functional, but with an elegant twist: The width of the forks and spoons is just slightly smaller than that of your standard set, and they feel slightly longer in the hand. This set is a good and long-lasting upgrade to those starter Ikea sets.

A high-speed hand blender is great for whipping up silky soups and purées, making emulsions like mayonnaise and Hollandaise, or smoothing out sauces, all right in the pot. No need to dirty up an extra blender jar!

Spending $50 on cheese knives feels a little silly, especially when a regular knife does the trick just fine. But that's why they're the perfect gift—arguably unnecessary, but nonetheless useful, they feel like a real luxury. We're pretty sure they also raise your "real adult" status by at least 10 points. Especially when they're these beautifully crafted Dubost Laguiole knives. We like the simplicity of the olivewood handles, but they do come in other colors and styles, with the same high-quality blades.

A large mortar and pestle is one of the most underutilized kitchen tools. Not only is it faster than a spice grinder for small amounts of dry spices (particularly when it comes to cleaning), it draws out more flavor by crushing rather than shearing. It's also the perfect tool for making pastes out of moist ingredients, like herbs, garlic, and shallots.

This type of strainer, called a Hawthorne strainer, consists of a flat disk affixed to a coiled spring. The spring traps large chunks or slivers of ice and other solid ingredients, such as muddled fruit or mint leaves. The spring also allows you to control the flow of liquid from the shaker, and the strainer does a generally excellent job of keeping small ice chips, citrus pulp, and particles of muddled ingredients in the shaker, where they belong.

Peterson has long been the master of writing comprehensive works on major subjects. In Sauces, he breaks down sauce-making in all its intricacies, starting with stocks and leading you through the classics of French and Italian cuisines and beyond.

Kenji says that On Food and Cooking is, has been, and will probably always be the most important, most referenced, and and most cherished book in his library.

A good carbon steel pan has many of the qualities that make cast iron great—it's durable, it forms a completely nonstick surface if cared for properly, and it's inexpensive. But it's lighter and easier to maneuver, making it great for sautéing and searing everyday foods.

In this book, Peterson not only explains the most important cooking methods for various kinds of fish and shellfish, but also provides an abundance of recipes in which to try them out. You'll also find very useful step-by-step color photographs of how to prep, clean, and fillet just about any seafood you can imagine, including eel.

A staple of American kitchens for close to a century, Joy of Cooking continues to be a valued resource for all the basics, from pancakes and waffles to casseroles, stews, and roasts.

Fresh pasta is incredible, but unless your rolling pin skills are in the 99th percentile, there's no real way to get pasta dough thin enough without a pasta machine. We own and occasionally use a KitchenAid stand mixer attachment, but we find a clamp-on manual countertop model to be almost as easy to use (and far cheaper).

How do you make perfect caramels, ice cream, gravies, and reductions? A nifty pot called a saucier. The durable stainless steel is cladded with aluminum for even heating, essential for temperamental ingredients like caramel and egg custards. A curved bottom makes whisking a snap (no more lumpy gravy!), and the wide top encourages evaporation for fast sauce reductions. You can buy cheaper versions than this All-Clad saucier, but this is one piece of equipment in which quality really makes a difference.

Punt e Mes is both bitter and sweet, like a rich bottled vermouth cocktail that'll please lovers of Italian amari. It's delicious stuff, wonderful chilled on its own and fantastic with Cynar, lemon, salt, and orange bitters in this cocktail. If your favorite drinker hasn't tried it, make the introduction.

For decades, Spain stood in the gastronomic shadows of France and Italy, not receiving nearly enough attention for its own amazing ways with food. Then the country's restaurant scene exploded with chefs like Ferran Adrià, and suddenly the rest of the food world was racing to catch up. To understand those chefs requires understanding the traditional Spanish foods that formed the basis upon which they experimented so wildly, and Penelope Casas's book is one of the best starting points to do so. Flip through its pages, and it won't take long to see that Spain has always deserved a more prominent place in the eyes of the hungry world.

To store tools like spatulas and whisks, a good old-fashioned crock will do the trick. We like this ceramic one, which looks extra pretty on the counter. Keep it right next to your stove so your most-used tools will be at an arm's length whenever you need them.

Fuchsia is a scholar of the highest order, and her recipes are packed with interesting cultural and historical lessons and observations. She's also a technician, which means that you're going to learn about the 23 distinct flavors of Sichuan cuisine (no, it's not all and ), as well as the 56 (56!) different cooking methods employed by Sichuan chefs. On top of that, her recipes truly work.

Global Goods Clear Vanilla is a blend of natural and synthetic vanilla, formulated to be crystal-clear. While that's admittedly a strictly cosmetic feature, clear vanilla is a prized ingredient among bakers who are obsessed with snowy-white royal icing for snowflake cookies, or angel food cake as white as a cloud. Since it's not completely synthetic, this extract has an unexpected depth of flavor compared with other clear brands, and the fancy bottle makes it great for gifting as well.

Jacques Pépin has more than 20 cookbooks to his name, but this one might be the most universally useful to home cooks. Clear photos and descriptions walk newbies thought holding a knife properly, then using it to slice and dice an onion and debone a chicken. But there are also an endless number of little tricks, like why your salad greens should be bone dry before dressing them, that will up your kitchen IQ.

Indian food has a reputation for being difficult and time-consuming, with hard-to-find ingredients and new techniques. But in this book, Serious Eater Denise D'silva Sankhé breaks Indian cooking down into simple techniques that any home cook can master to produce amazingly flavorful dishes with minimal effort. Over the course of more than 100 recipes, Denise introduces us to simple cooking from every region of India, focusing on home-style dishes that move well beyond the world of curries. We're also super stoked that she's included notes with every recipe on whether it's vegan, vegetarian, and/or allergy-friendly.

This kettle offers the widest range of temperature settings of any kettle we tested. Great for tea-lovers.

This hefty volume ranges from regional Mexican cooking down through the complex cuisine of Peru, over to Argentina's famed grilling tradition, and much, much more. If you want to understand how an empanada or arepa differs from one country to the next, this is the book to grab.

If our rice cooker got it on with a Roomba, we imagine their offspring might look a bit like the new Breville Crispy Crust countertop pizza oven. It's a new plug-and-go appliance that promises "professional brick-oven results right in your own kitchen," for about $150.

When fall and winter roll around, we start thinking about rich, comforting casseroles, which means that these stoneware baking dishes get pulled out, filled, and popped into the oven at least once a week. They're great-looking on the table and provide gentle, even cooking all around for really nice, crisp edges on your lasagna.

Anyone who appreciates Scotch (or good spirits in general) will embrace Nikka's exquisite whiskies. The Taketsuru Pure Malt is named for the company's founder, who studied in Scotland before bringing whisky distilling back to Japan. This bottling has a slight fruity character, with lingering sherry on the finish.

Few things get us as excited as a good raw bar, but most of the time, we eat far too little because after the first couple dozen oysters it just gets to be too expensive. That's even truer when the oysters are top-notch, like the briny little suckers from Island Creek up in Massachusetts. But you can order their oysters online by the 50- or 100-count for much less than they cost at most restaurants for an at-home shucking extravaganza.

Orwell's accounts of working as a plongeur—a dishwasher—under an abusive chef in a bug-infested basement in Paris are a remarkable look at what restaurants were like in the early 20th century. It's Kitchen Confidential before Kitchen Confidential and, unlike that great work, contains very little in the way of BS. This book is short, easy to read, and packed with firsthand insight. Required reading for anyone who wants to know what being truly destitute means.

Not only can you cook perfect plain rice in this traditional Japanese clay pot, but it doubles as a vessel for flavorful one-pot stews and hot pots, and an infinite variety of noodle and rice dishes. Anyone interested in Japanese home cooking should have one.

Something we see a lot in home kitchens is salt that's way too inaccessible, whether it's tucked into a cabinet or sealed into a difficult-to-use dispenser. Considering how frequently salt is used in recipes, it should be within reach at all times. Along with our salt pig, we recommend this olivewood salt cellar with a swing-top lid. We like to keep one salt container at each side of the kitchen, so we never have to reach too far for good seasoning. Depending on how your kitchen is set up, you might want to consider having salt in more than one place, too; generally it's most useful right by the stove, and then wherever you do most of your prep work.

This two-layer tiffin is neat and attractive without being too cutesy, and it's small enough that it won't occupy too much space in a shared office fridge. In the warmer months, it'll do just as well for packing sandwiches and individual portions of salad or fresh fruit for a picnic.

This is arguably the book that set the United States straight: Those burritos you've been calling Mexican food? Not so much. Kennedy was one of the first English-language authors to call out Mexican cooking as distinct from the Tex-Mex and SoCal versions that many had come to assume were the real deal. In this seminal book, she covers regional variations, ingredients, techniques, and more.

Old cast iron has a perfectly smooth nonstick surface that's surprisingly easy to maintain. You can sear, bake, roast, braise, stew, and deep-fry in it, and there's nothing more thoughtful than a gift that you have to expend a bit of effort to find (check out eBay, yard sales, and flea markets). These modern Lodge pans will do in a pinch if vintage isn't in the cards.

A pressure cooker is a cooking vessel that just keeps on giving: Once you discover the time-saving feats it's capable of, you'll never look back. A countertop electric model gives you set-it-and-forget-it convenience. Breville’s Fast Slow Pro Cooker gives you complete control over your pressure cooking but also works as a slow cooker and a rice cooker.

Not all food storage containers are built the same. OXO's Pop Containers stack neatly in the cabinet, make it easy to see exactly what's inside, and have a neat push-button top that forms a perfectly airtight seal, keeping your dry pantry goods fresher for longer.

This straight-sided sauté pan from All-Clad has a wide, flat base for searing off big batches of meat, and high sides so you can braise, stew, or simmer several meals' worth of food directly in it. It's the ideal vessel for stove-to-oven dishes like this Braised Chicken With White Beans, or a one-pot pasta dish like our Macaroni and Beef. Versatile and robust, it makes comfort food all the more comforting.

Woks are the best tool for stir-frying if you want to get that distinctly smoky wok hei flavor, but they're also versatile vessels that you can use for braising, deep-frying, or even indoor smoking.

Jessie Kanelos Weiner's vivid and imaginative watercolors have enhanced several of our stories. Her book Edible Paradise: An Adult Coloring Book of Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables, is a great therapeutic outlet. For those who enjoy it, coloring can leave you with a profound sense of zen-like relaxation and accomplishment. Weiner's fanciful landscapes are organized by season; they're a riot of vegetation, edible plant life, and tantalizing market scenes. They'll encourage you to paint (or pencil) the town red—in any colors you like.

If you want to start making legit espresso at home, this machine from Breville is a great investment. We like that it has a built-in burr grinder that will stay set at whatever dosage you've decided is best for your shot, as well as an adjustable pre-infusion time. Getting the hang of it—and dialing in—takes a while, but ultimately, the results are impressive.

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.

Plenty More highlights the versatility of vegetables with 120 inventive plant-based recipes. It takes a degree of commitment to cook through this book—many, though not all, of Ottolenghi’s recipes require extra time spent sourcing unusual ingredients or toiling in the kitchen—but the reward is food that is enigmatic and downright dazzling. The ideal gift for anyone who thinks vegetables are boring, and for those who know they’re not.

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.

When we tested bread knives earlier this year, we were absolutely blown away by the cutting quality of Tojiro's bread knife. It surpassed every other serrated knife, cutting beautifully clean slices of even the most tender bread, and making quick, neat work of ripe tomatoes. It's a must-have for any kitchen.

These cork-bottomed ceramic coasters by Xenia Taler are vibrant and shiny, so it feels like they add to your decor, rather than detracting from it. If you're not into this particular color scheme, she has a range of other cute designs to choose from.

Thanks to a few simple innovations in the filter and beaker design, this French press fixes some of the brewing device's biggest drawbacks. The result is a cleaner batch of coffee that won't accidentally over-steep.

Kitchen towels are always welcome in any cook’s kitchen, but these can also double up as a half-apron in a pinch.

There are countless great books on American regional cooking, dozens of them on the South alone. But Lewis's tribute to Southern cooking is particularly important because it goes beyond just great recipes to tell her story of growing up in Virginia in a farming community founded by freed slaves.

Whether you're waffling something silly, like s'mores with Halloween candy, or something traditional, like Stella's perfect vanilla buttermilk waffles, you'll need a good iron to get the job done. We like this one from Cuisinart. It heats quickly and evenly, and the non-stick plates make it suitable for all sorts of experimentation. What will we waffle next? Only time will tell.

Warning: Reading this book might lead to the purchase of some very expensive plane tickets. The Roads & Kingdoms crew will get you hungry for a journey to Japan, for onigiri basted with chicken fat, juicy one-bite gyoza, milky-white tonkotsu ramen broth, and briny sea urchin.

Ruhlman and Polcyn do a great job of demystifying one of the more abstruse cooking arts, and, while charcuterie may seem daunting, it can be gratifyingly easy. Start simple, with the pancetta, confit, rillettes, and duck prosciutto, and you'll find yourself with a mold-inoculated curing chamber in no time.

One of the best cookbook gateways into Middle Eastern cuisine—an obsessive and personalized exploration of the many cultures and traditions that make up Jerusalem's culinary world. What will you find here? A recipe for the best hummus of your life, for starters; messy-beautiful dips and salads; and the delicately spiced soups, grains, and vegetables Yotam Ottolenghi has become famous for.

The great thing about buying a meat grinder attachment is that you already know that the hardest-working part of your grinder—the motor—is going to be a workhorse that can power through even the toughest grinding projects. Stand mixer attachments are a great option if you make a lot of sausage. You can grind the meat directly into the bowl, then attach the bowl to the machine and immediately start mixing it with the paddle to develop protein. It's a real time-saver.

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.

We tested dozens of stovetop pressure cookers before settling on Kuhn Rikon's Duromatic. It has a heavy sandwiched-aluminum-and-steel base that gives you even heat, and a pressure gauge that makes telling exactly how much pressure has built up inside visual and intuitive.

How much praise can we throw at a Le Creuset Dutch oven? This is one of those things couples put on their wedding registries and desperately hope someone buys for them. This is a pot you hand down to your kids. This is a piece of cookware that you will use for everything, including serving at the table, and then you won't want to put it away because you just like looking at it. This is a workhorse of the kitchen. Yes, it costs a lot. But things that are built to last a lifetime despite daily use usually do.

Tom Colicchio’s Think Like a Chef is not one of those inflated coffee-table chef books. Instead it helps you think of cooking in broad stroke techniques: Roasting. Braising. Blanching. Stock-making. Sauces. Sure, you’ll make dinner by following a recipe, but, as Colicchio tells us, cooking isn't about learning to follow recipes to the letter, just like real art isn't created by following a paint-by-numbers coloring book. Get bogged down in the minutiae of a recipe, and you lose sight of what really matters: the food that results.

To make good tortillas at home, you'll need a tortilla press. You might find lightweight aluminum presses out there but this one, which is made of cast iron, is heavy enough to easily press your masa mixture into perfect flat little tortillas with minimal effort on your part.

Mark Kurlansky's Cod is part history; part biography (fishy biography, that is); part ecological allegory; part cookbook; and all-around great storytelling. It opens with the tale of a waning fishing village in Newfoundland in 1992, at what Kurlansky refers to as "the wrong end of a 1,000-year fishing spree." Over the next 200 pages or so, he tells the fascinating story of how a single fish shaped the course of history.

While you certainly can make dumplings on your own, it's always better (and more fun) with company. Use this amazing compendium of dumpling recipes to throw a good old-fashioned dumpling party.

If you know someone who has a taste for a well-made cocktail, but lives far from the heart of the Brooklyn drinking scene, this book is the perfect gift. It features 300 innovative and classic drink recipes from the best bars of the borough; every cocktail we've tried from it so far has been killer. The drinks Carey Jones has selected aren't dumbed down at all, but, for the most part, you're not looking at mile-long ingredient lists, either.

There's form, and then there's function. The aprons from Tilit are great on both fronts. Made from waxed cotton, they offer breathability along with water resistance, but they're also damned handsome.

Sure, you can serve crushed-ice cocktails in a regular old glass, but these shiny pineapple-shaped tumblers really up the ante and make a tiki party feel special.

Unlike so many chef cookbooks, this one features simple, honest recipes for classic regional French dishes. No crazy flourishes or flights of fancy, just solid French country cooking from a master.

Heavy-duty kitchen towels have a tendency to accrue big, ugly stains. That's why it's nice to keep a separate set of more attractive towels for gentle drying, transporting too-hot-to-handle serving dishes, and lining bread baskets. These colorful, summery tea towels instantly brighten any kitchen or tabletop, while still doing a stand-up job at the tasks they were made for.

The Le Creuset is the gold standard among Dutch ovens, and, while pricey, it lives up to its reputation. The pot is easy to cook in, has comfy handles, and is backed by a solid reputation for quality enamel.

These wine glasses feel fancy enough for an elegant dinner party—and you can throw them in the dishwasher after, which is a pretty rare attribute. Their sturdy construction means you (or your giftee) can expect to hang on to these for several years.

These colorful bowls make setting up your mise en place a little more fun, but they’re also great for bringing extra seasonings to the table, like fennel seeds and pepper flakes for pizza.

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.

There are so many classics cookbooks out there but for a beginner James Peterson’s Essentials of Cooking is comprehensive without being overwhelming. Color step-by-step photos walk you through basics like roasting a chicken, prepping vegetables, making sauces to next level techniques like butchering a fish.

Tackling all the food in China is no easy task, which is why we tend to gravitate more readily to works that keep a more limited focus on specific regions and cooking styles. Still, a single book that provides a good overview is extremely helpful when trying to get one's bearings. This book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo does a laudable job at that, starting you out in the market with an introduction to shopping and ingredients, then proceeding into the kitchen to cover basic techniques and classic recipes.

The Char-Broil's WiFi-enabled digital electric smoker is very easy to use and has WiFi connectivity, so you can monitor and control the smoking session from a paired smartphone. Electric cookers lack serious heat and combustion gases, because of the electric element, making them they’re better suited for imparting a light smoke flavor, especially on bigger cuts of meat.

An ideal gift for any Manhattan, cherry, or all-around whiskey lover. These cherries trade the cloying sweetness of maraschinos for the boozy bass notes of great whiskey. Use them in your go-to whiskey cocktail, or to top a favorite dessert.

Race relations, religion, the New South versus the Old: These are just a smattering of the heavy issues Rien Fertel writes about through the lens of—well—smoked meat, in this new book. And, while you might be thinking, "Oh, man, another book about barbecue?", this one stands out from the crowd thanks to Fertel's superb writing and storytelling skills. In a book that's part culinary history, part personal narrative, and part tale of an American road trip, Fertel travels throughout the South, documenting the men who have long stood behind the fires practicing the time-consuming pursuit of whole hog barbecue—the ones who have been keeping alive the embers of what once seemed like a dying art, and the ones who are inspiring a new generation of pitmasters today.

A good digital scale is an essential tool for bakers or home charcuterie makers. The OXO Food Scale 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.

Drinking Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva Rum—with its dark caramel and vanilla on first whiff, and its rich and velvety-smooth feel as you sip—is like drinking a crème brûlée, but with a long, dry finish. Add an ice cube if you must, but it's really worth it to give it a try without first.

We’ve used many oyster knives as Serious Eats staffers and the R. Murphy Duxbury knife is our hands-down favorite. It has a fat, grippy handle that's easy to wield, and a short blade that tapers to a point and always manages to find the sweet spot on an oyster's hinge. The slightly sharpened blade edges make slicing through the muscle and removing the top shell as smooth as butter.

The Cadillac of kitchen thermometers is indispensable when you're roasting meat, cooking steaks, making candy, deep-frying, or carrying out any other task where precise temperature control is needed. It's got a big display and a blazing-fast measuring time of under two seconds.

In this book, Meathead Goldwyn, the founder of AmazingRibs.com, distills decades of research on the art and science of barbecue and grilling into a single volume that shows not just the best ways to take food to live fire, but why the techniques work. Far more than a recipe book alone (though there are tons of bulletproof recipes), this text will teach your favorite barbecue lover the hard-tested fundamentals of outdoor cooking, giving them the confidence to cook anything, even without a recipe. The myth-busting and equipment tips alone were enough to get us hooked.

Leave it to Murray's Cheese Shop owner Rob Kaufelt to come up with a cheese that is both global and local at the same time. Kaufelt's crew discovered cheesemaker Walter Rass's extraordinary Annelies cheese in a small village in Switzerland. Kaufelt has wheels of the stuff shipped to his New York shop, where he ages them for nine months in the Murray's cheese cave before selling them to the public. The result is a nutty, caramelly, toasty cheese that needs no cracker for completion.

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.

Manhattan chef Jody Williams's Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food is as charming and inviting as the restaurant that inspired it. This is a book to get greasy and damp as you cook through its pages, and it's a nightstand read, dreamy and warm, to flip through as you wind down. Channeling a traditional French bistro, with a bit of Italy and a touch of New York thrown in, the recipes are classics, both inspirational and totally doable. Some are so simple that they hardly count as recipes at all—they're more like suggestions for how to better your day with a plate of food, from breakfast through dessert after a lingering, late-night supper. Perfect for your impossibly, effortlessly stylish friend.

Everyone talks about New York bagels and their Montreal counterparts in quasi-religious tones, but our prayers get answered every time we eat a Hot Bread Kitchen bialy. Bialys are an endangered species (think of them as a toasted Jewish English muffin with caramelized onions in the center), but Hot Bread Kitchen is doing its best to make them fashionable again. Now, if only Taylor Swift would put an HBK bialy on her Instagram feed.

This 400-page guide to meat may be focused on sustainability and local eating, but that doesn't make it any less comprehensive. Krasner goes deep on all the basics of meat, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and more, offering anatomy charts, buying tips, basics on animal husbandry, and, of course, plenty of recipes.

Every lip balm Stewart & Claire makes uses great ingredients that you wouldn't hesitate to smear all over your mouth, but even cooler are the scents the company comes up with, many of them inspired by foods. They also offer a cocktail inspired trio includes Negroi, with spiced orange and juniper, along with an old fashioned with cedar, vanilla and black pepper. The tiki balm is, as you’d expect, tropical with traces of coconut, mandarin, and mango

The best ham on earth doesn't come cheap, but this is the caviar of pork: jamón ibérico puro de bellota, from purebred Ibérico pigs raised on acorns for a ham that's nutty and sweet, with meltingly soft fat.

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.

It's hard to find a better-curated food catalog than Zingerman's. They are righteous folks, they know seriously delicious food when they come across it, and they sell it at a fair price. Nothing in the catalog is cheap, but then again, good food rarely is.

Michael Solomonov's Israeli cookbook has changed the way we cook. His recipe for tahini sauce, which includes a novel technique for incorporating garlic and lemon, is alone worth the price of admission. We've loved the Yemenite beef soup (and the accompanying hot sauce), his wide focus on vegetarian-friendly dishes, and a host of homemade condiments that will elevate almost any meal, even if you don't follow full recipes from the book.

Oh, man, do we love our Vitamix blender. Whether we're making super-quick smoothies or the creamiest, smoothest purées and soups imaginable, the Vitamix is unparalleled in its power.

This Dexter-Russell bread knife is a tank that's perfect for even the toughest cutting jobs, according to our tests.

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.

The Magimix impressed us with each slicing, chopping, grating, and puréeing test we tossed at it, especially with pizza dough, which it combined so well that no additional kneading was required.

What’s important to new cooks? Making dishes that compound in flavor as they cook, require minimal effort, and little in the way of special equipment. That means braising, and All About Braising is one of the best treatments on the subject. Author Molly Stevens breaks down every stage of the braising process for cooks of all skill levels—taking out the mystery of what’s going on under the lid. We think that’s one of the best ways to learn: master a technique rather than cook from a catch-all encyclopedia. From pages of notes on braising vessels to detailed breakdowns of how it all comes together, she takes delicious-yet-intimidating-sounding recipes like sausages and plums with red wine and makes you shout, yeah, I can do this! Oh, and the vegetable recipes are some of the best.

We don't know if there's a book about cooking that we've thought about more than this one by Tamar Adler, a former Chez Panisse cook who was once an editor at Harper's Magazine. It's about cooking simply, and enjoying the simple meals that naturally follow from thinking about your ingredients in cycles. We forget, sometimes, that the leftover stems from blanched broccoli are wonderful cooked with olive oil and piled on toast; that their cooking liquid could be the base of a soup; that the stems of greens like Swiss chard and kale make a lovely pesto. She reminds us that stale bread can make something delicious and that yesterday's bean broth could be the start of a pasta dish today. This book sends the valuable message that dinner doesn't always need to be a big deal.

This cookbook is a great guide to learning how to use a donabe cooker. It offers a wide range of recipes to help give you an idea of just how many one-pot dishes can be made using a donabe, plus background on the history and variety of donabe cookers.

A manual grinder is the cheapest way to get good-quality freshly ground meat at home, and it's a great choice if you don't own a stand mixer. Our favorite is this suction-mounted grinder from Gideon. The suction cup provides as firm a base as bolt-mounted models we've owned, and it does such an excellent job grinding meat that we often reach for it instead of our stand mixer attachment.

A rad cake stand will make any layer cake look like a work of art (and make any occasion feel special).

One of the most common things we see in the home kitchens of friends and family is salt that's way too inaccessible. It's either squirreled away in a cabinet or sealed inside a shaker that dispenses salt in a frustratingly slow sprinkling. But salt is the ingredient we use more frequently than any other. It needs to be within easy reach at all times. One of your best options is a dedicated salt pig, which is a ceramic container designed just for this purpose. They tend to have wide openings that make it easy to reach in and grab big pinches of salt. An overhanging top helps keep dust and other unwanted particles from falling inside. They're also large enough to hold a decent supply of salt, reducing the frequency with which you'll have to top up.

The ChefSteps Joule is the smallest circulator on the market. It's sleek, compact design fits in a drawer and it heats quickly and accurately. It has the advantage of the ChefSteps community and legacy content built into its app, though its one downside is that it requires a smartphone or tablet along with a registered account to operate.

Despite its fast pace, self-deprecating style of humor, and easy readability, there's an insane amount of usable information packed into every paragraph of The Man Who Ate Everything, and, what's more, you find yourself actually remembering the stuff. Not everything he writes about is immediately useful in the kitchen, but it's guaranteed to make you successful at cocktail parties and Jeopardy! tournaments alike.

The Whirley Pop is the fastest, most convenient way to make popcorn, popping out cups of the stuff in under a minute, with virtually no un-popped kernels. It also produces fluffier popcorn than any other stovetop method (air poppers might have it beat in that department), and it's excellent for distributing toppings.

The Cuisinart is an easy-to-use, powerful blender that aced many of our tests. This model’s dashboard is intuitive, and it features a built-in timer that counts down for you or can be programmed to stop after a certain number of seconds.

We don't often recommend single-function items, but for the cocktail enthusiast, a couple of julep cups really are fun to have. There's nothing like holding that metal cup frosted with ice on a blisteringly hot summer day. If you don't have an ice crusher, check out our Lewis bag suggestion as well.

This is the electric kettle has an elegant gooseneck spout that makes pouring a thin, controlled stream easy—very helpful for Chemex and other pourover coffee methods—and a base with controls that allow you to set a specific temperature and hold it there.

What's the point of perfectly roasting that turkey or prime rib if you don't have a pretty surface to carve it on? We love this teak cutting board because it's large enough for major projects, but lighter than thicker boards, making it easy to move from the kitchen to the dining room. It's made from scraps of larger teak products, making this cutting board a good environmental choice as well.

What is there to say that hasn't already been said? This is the original work that exposed countless Americans to classic French cooking, forever changing the course of this country's cuisine. Never mind if some of the recipes are a bit labyrinthine. You should own it. Both volumes. Period.

Coffee and tea just feel more luxurious in this pretty handmade mug from Portland, Oregon's Mazama Wares. We love the satiny glaze and find the handle particularly comfortable. These mugs also stack nicely, thanks to an unfinished tapered section at the base of each mug.

What makes it worth reading? Turns out that the usefulness is hidden in its prose. It's Hugh's geeky but down-to-earth fascination with raising and foraging your own food that will either fascinate or bore you. Each of the four chapters—Garden, Livestock, Fish, and Hedgerow—starts with a lengthy study of not just how to grow and harvest vegetables, livestock, seafood, and wild plants, but also what has the best flavor when, and the environmental impacts of the various choices you can make.

This KitchenAid attachment takes all of the frustration and fussiness out of making fresh pasta, and, unlike the manual alternatives out there, it's incredibly easy and efficient to operate on your own. Hello, homemade ravioli!

Russ Parsons's How to Read a French Fry doesn't try to be everything to everyone, and it doesn't pretend to be an encyclopedia of food science. Instead, it's a well-curated package of only the most useful and interesting scientific tidbits, with a straightforward, "just the facts, ma'am" approach. Each of the six chapters is about a single basic concept of food science: how frying works, how vegetables ripen, how beans and pasta soften, how meat reacts to heat, how eggs are the most useful culinary tool on the planet, and how fat, flour, and water come together to form pastries and cookies.

A New York Times best-seller! The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, by J. Kenji López-Alt, is his column by the same name on this very website, blown up to 900-plus pages (and seven-plus pounds) of concentrated culinary science. Gorgeous color photos, detailed how-tos, and elaborate explainers cover ingredients, technique, gear, and the secrets of the universe underneath it all. May include puns.

The slope-sided skillet, like this one from All-Clad, is a chef's best friend and one of the most versatile pans in the kitchen, whether you're sautéing vegetables, searing meat, or cooking one of our dozens of one-pan meals. The best have solid stainless steel construction, with an aluminum core for even heat distribution.

Insightful (and very well-written) memoir by the elder statesman of food and cooking in the United States. From his early memories of picking salad for his mother to his recollection of eating raw clams on a Connecticut pier, the book shows how food is not just a passion or a career; food, for Jacques Pépin, is life.

While you can get it brewing with just the push of a button, the Breville offers layer upon layer of fine-tuned control for the coffee geek who wants to tweak brew variables. Finishing near the top of our taste tests, this spendy machine allows you to control brew-water temperature and time and the blooming phase. It can also make cold brew, and it’s compatible with popular pourover devices like the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave.

Wooden peels absorb excess moisture and have a rougher surface than metal, which means that your stretched and topped pizza dough will remain loose and easy to launch far longer, saving you from potential pizza-spilled-all-over-the-oven accidents. Though there are cheaper options around, the Perfect Peel Baker's Board is handcrafted to last a lifetime from gorgeous solid cherrywood. They'll even put initials or a logo on it if you'd like!

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.

Madhur Jaffrey has become one of the foremost authorities on Indian cooking since she published An Invitation to Indian Cooking in 1973. It and her subsequent books helped introduce American cooks to a cuisine that, at the time, was hardly known here at all.

Larousse is the serious food encyclopedia for the serious cook. Its focus is mostly on French preparations, though more recent editions have attempted to remedy that with some more international entries. Arranged alphabetically, Larousse offers up historical context, recipes and cooking instruction, and definitions galore.

Eight hundred recipes. Yes, you read that right. Really, it shouldn't be surprising, given that this definitive work by Claudia Roden encapsulates so much of the Middle East, a region with such diverse cooking styles that each one could inspire a thousand books. Persian food? Check. North African food? Check. Turkish cooking? Check. Everything else? Check, check, check.

From the slide-out rack to the intuitive controls, the Breville is an easy-to-use toaster oven with excellent performance. It quickly and evenly toasts bread and bakes frozen pizza and pot pies. The preset for cookies makes it simple to bake off nine treats in less than 15 minutes.

It can be easy to brush off appearances as unimportant, but tableside presentation is a big part of a baking dish’s appeal. If you want excellent performance combined with a handsome and classic design that will look great on your holiday table (or on your Instagram account), Staub is your best bet. This heavyweight dish heats evenly in the oven at temperatures up to 575°F (300°C) and has great heat retention, keeping food hotter longer when you're serving. The generous four-quart capacity is ideal for large roasts and extra-deep casseroles.

High-quality Swedish steel and Japanese design, along with great features like a perfectly balanced handle and blade and an ergonomic bolster, makes the Misono UX10 Santoku one of our favorite knives.

Almost every element of this slicer is a little unorthodox, so we were surprised when it clearly outperformed all of its competitors in our slicing tests. If you're looking for the tool to make quick work of your next prime rib, this is it.

Paring knives don't need to cost a lot to do their job—questions of balance and build quality matter less in a knife that fits almost entirely in the palm of your hand. Of all the ones we tested, this inexpensive blade from Wüsthof came out on top, with a razor-sharp edge and comfortable grip. This is our new go-to paring knife, and we already have several of them at work and home.

A tourné knife can be good for more than just tormenting culinary students. It's perfect for peeling onions and garlic, hulling strawberries, removing stubborn potato eyes, and much more.

For those who find Scotch too smoky, bourbon too sweet, and rye too spicy, Irish whiskey is the ideal gift. Redbreast emerges from the barrels complex and substantial; some of the whiskey is aged in sherry casks, lending it a weight and dark hue, while some is aged in bourbon casks, imparting characteristic vanilla flavors. There's a hint of fruit up front and spice on the finish.

Sous vide cooking—cooking foods in vacuum-sealed pouches in precisely controlled water baths—is no longer the exclusive preserve of fancy restaurant kitchens. The Anova Precision Cooker is one of the best home water bath controllers on the market, with an easy-to-use interface, Bluetooth support, rock-solid construction, a sleek look, and an affordable price tag to boot.

The Staub’s classic flat lid hides spikes underneath that are designed to evenly shower your food with moisture. The pot heats evenly and is a pleasure to cook in. It's also handsome enough to serve from at the table.

Rather than focusing on the cuisine of a specific country, in this book, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid trace the connections between flavors and cultures along the Mekong River. The book starts in southern China and follows their travels through Burma, into Laos and Thailand, and finally down into Vietnam. With gorgeous photography and compelling essays, Alford and Duguid present a version of Southeast Asia that is at once peaceful, dynamic, and captivating. Never has a book caused us to want to book a plane ticket so quickly—though this urge was matched by an even stronger desire to jump into the kitchen.

Lightweight and virtually unbreakable, melamine can be super convenient for outdoor entertaining or big parties. Unfortunately, it's not always super attractive. That's why we're so in love with these plates, which look like hand-painted ceramic, with the weight and heft of, well, plastic.

Anyone who loves soft-boiled eggs deserves the perfect cup to eat them from. These sturdy stoneware Le Creuset cups come in a range of beautiful colors. They're totally classic, which is a good thing because they'll also last for generations to come.

Having The Cocktail Chronicles at your side is like having a friend who always knows a good drink recipe for whatever you've got on hand. It doesn't talk your ear off or suggest something with a dozen ingredients. Instead, it shares classics, recent spins on classics, and drinks you've never heard of but can easily mix up and enjoy, and the introductions are never preachy or boring.

The Blackstone is the oven of choice for high-output, rapid cooking, as it takes very little time to preheat and recover, pumping out pie after pie at a nonstop clip. Users who are comfortable making frequent mechanical repairs and adjustments, and who care more about speed than about versatility and aesthetics, will be happy with this one.

Bayless's skills as a recipe writer are exemplary. As is true of any good recipe writer, his recipes are meticulously tested and designed with the constraints and knowledge of the home cook in mind. There are only a few photographs, interleaved on glossy inserts, but the printed pages of the book are sprinkled with clear illustrations that demonstrate unfamiliar techniques, such as how to tuck banana leaves around chicken for pollo pibil (the original pit barbecue from the Yucatán) or how to fillet whole fish for pescado a la veracruzana (poached fish topped with tomatoes, capers, and olives).

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.

Many of the milk frothers out there do a poor job of emulating the thick, creamy foam produced by a good espresso machine's steaming wand, over-aerating the milk to the point where it gets a light sudsy texture. Nespresso's frother is different—it whisks the milk but manages to get much closer to the ideal cappuccino-foam. Plus, it has a nonstick interior that’s easy to clean, and a hot/cold setting for hot or iced drinks.

Dave Arnold (you might know of his bar, Booker and Dax in NYC) won't just accept the common assumptions about cocktail technique—his mission in this excellent book is to dig into the science of how the very best drinks are made. This is a must-read for inquisitive types who like to host cocktail hour at home.

Interested in sous vide cooking? You're going to want this. And it's handy for way more than just sous vide cooking. A vacuum sealer makes it really easy to save meats or other foods in the freezer, and it keeps air (read: freezer burn) off it all. The Oliso sealer uses a unique resealable-bag system, which means far less wasted plastic than a conventional cut-and-seal vacuum sealer.

Shizuo Tsuji's masterwork on Japanese cooking is as useful today as it was when it was first published more than two decades ago. He takes you through essential equipment, cooking techniques, ingredients, recipes, and the philosophy that underlies it all. Reading this book doesn't just help you learn to cook Japanese food, it helps you to understand and appreciate it far more, too.