A few years ago using a kitchen mixer was as simple as pulling out the old wire whisk to create scrambled eggs or plugging in the two-beater mixer to whip up cake batter. But in today's modern kitchen you are more likely to find a full stand mixer with any of a dozen or more different attachments. So with all of the choices, how do you know which attachment does what? Let us help you out. At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don’t Have To.™
One of the most common attachments that come with a stand mixer is a dough hook, which will be in the shape of a "C" or a spiral. The "C" shape is most commonly used. This is most commonly used for stiff dough that should be kneaded or when trying to allow air into the dough so it will rise, such as with bread and pizza dough.
The next common attachment is the wire whip or balloon whisk. This attachment is mostly used when a whipping action is necessary, such as when turning a milk base into whipped cream or when creating meringue for a lemon meringue pie. Any time you are looking to infuse air into your liquid foods you should consider using the whisk.
Most stand mixers will include a flat beater when you purchase the unit. The purpose of the flat beater is to mix ingredients without a whipping action. It is most useful when you are mixing cake batter, meatloaf or making mashed potatoes.
Some electric mixers allow you to create even more exciting culinary dishes by providing an extensive list of different attachments. For example, the line of KitchenAid stand mixers allows you to purchase a rectangle device that attaches to the front of the unit that will allow you to make your own ravioli. Once you have made your ravioli dough, you simply place one piece on either side of this little gadget and drop in your ravioli filling. As you turn the small hand crank the dough wraps itself around your filling and is pressed through a molded slot that will not only join the ends of your ravioli together, but will also imprint them with the ruffled look of store-bought ravioli.
Some kitchen mixers even offer a special attachment that will allow you to make your own homemade ice cream. If you have kids who like to help in the kitchen, this is one attachment that will come in handy. No rock salt is needed; simply freeze the special bowl before use, add your ingredients, fasten the ice cream attachment to your stand mixer and within minutes you have your own homemade ice cream. You can also create your own gelato or sorbet using the ice cream attachment.
One of the handiest gadgets we found for some stand mixers is a slicer/shredder attachment. This allows you to shred potatoes and cheese for a perfect hash brown casserole in a matter of seconds. If you are someone who likes to shred your own lettuce for your south of the border Mexican meals, this feature will also come in handy.
All you have to do is choose the right attachment and you can knead bread dough and whip up those mashed potatoes in a matter of minutes – with zero elbow grease. But keep in mind that if you are looking for something more adventurous many of the mixers on the market offer different attachments for creating even more culinary delights.