Whisked Away

TEST KICTHEN

April 04, 2007|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,Sun Reporter

Think "whisk" and the familiar balloon-shaped utensil surely comes to mind -- the bigger, the better for whipping cream and meringues to impressive heights.

But for this Sunday's Easter brunches and dinners, cooks are just as likely to pull out the smaller "sauce whisk," essential for marrying the disparate elements of gravies, beurre blancs and other fragile accompaniments. The sauce whisk takes more forms: tightly wound coil, skinny balloon, flat wire. Which performs best?

I tested four of these whisks on sauces that would be at home on the Easter table -- a curried mint sauce and a velvety hollandaise. I looked for how well the whisks interacted with my stainless-steel saucepan; how effectively they brought and held ingredients together; and how comfortable they were to use after several minutes of whisking.

My favorite was a flat-wire whisk from Williams-Sonoma, which combined the best elements of a spatula and a whisk. It offered great control, and its lightweight design was easy on my wrist.

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kate.shatzkin@baltsun.com

BEST WHISK

WILLIAMS-SONOMA 10-INCH FLAT WHISK, $9.95

The thin wires in this stainless-steel whisk (pictured left) made for quick, easy stirring. But what really won me over was the way the innermost wire held automatically to each pat of butter as I whisked it into the hollandaise, which kept the sauce smooth and even. The spatulalike shape made it the best of the bunch at scraping down the sides, bottom and edges of the pan. Available at Williams-Sonoma.

ALSO TESTED

OXO GOOD GRIPS 11-INCH WHISK, $9.98

A close second. The rubber grip on this skinny balloon helped it handle well, and the extra-long length helped the whisk stand up on its own in the saucepan. But the length also made this whisk a little awkward to use at times. Available at Macy's.

CUISIPRO TWIST WHISK, $16.95

I was drawn to the funky blue twisted silicone on this whisk, and I liked its flexibility and heat resistance in the pan. But the heavy steel handle ruined it, making it too thick to hold comfortably for long, and the steel heated up when the whisk was left in the pan for a few minutes. Available at bakerscatalogue.com.

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS FROM CALPHALON, SPRING WHISK, $8.99

This coiled model looked neat and pressed flat in the pan, but its heaviness slowed down the whisking. The coil also made the whisk harder to control. If I stirred too vigorously, I risked splattering myself with hot sauce. Available at Target.

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