Pros: Control; non-stick; easy to clean; ready and done indicators; easy cleaning
Cons: Loud done indicator; awkward cord storage; not incredibly durable
Rating: 3 out of 5
First posted 10/13/2000
My fiancee and I had toyed with the idea of getting a waffle maker for a while. Then one night we just decided that we had to have one. We checked out our two favorite online cooking stores: the King Arthur Flour Company, and Cooking.com. KAF only had the Chef’s Choice. Cooking.com had a dizzying array of possibilities.
We ended up being very impressed with the array of features on the Chef’s Choice. It can make waffles in as little as 90 seconds. It’s non-stick. It has cord storage, and can be stored upright to take up less space. It has an overflow channel in case you put too much batter in. It has a ready light, and a “done” beeper. It has a color wheel, so you can choose how dark you want your waffles, and your choice of crispy exterior/moist interior or deep bake settings.
We searched in vain for the non-heart-shaped one, but alas, couldn’t find it. Ah well.
Procedures: Ordinarily you don’t oil the thing. You have to oil it the first time you use it, and then you throw away the first waffle, to get rid of the last bits of chemicals from the production process. This seemed to work just fine. You’ll smell a slight chemical smell when it first heats up, but it’s gone long before you cook waffles you’ll eat.
Other than that…well, you turn it on by plugging it in. You pick a color setting; they recommend 2.5 or 3 for most waffles even though it goes much higher than that. A small difference on the wheel can make a large difference in color, so you can fine-tune things to your taste. Supposedly the high numbers mean that even when the thing starts dying, you’ll be able to make dark waffles – no more “old toaster” syndrome where things barely brown. You pick a setting (crispy/moist, or deep bake) – although they say that if you want to do deep bake, you can get it to preheat faster by setting it to crispy/moist and then switching when it’s heated up. Then you wait for it to heat up.
Surprisingly, this takes almost no time at all, so it wins all over the old iron thing we used to have to flip over our gas stove. It also takes all the guesswork out of figuring out where that little needle should be – it tells you with the little light instead. On it’s hot, off it isn’t.
Then you pour in a full 1/3 cup of batter and press down lightly on the lid, then let go and let it do its work. The spiffy “floating hinge” in the back is capable of lifting up as the batter rises a bit, so you get an even waffle.
Then it beeps to tell you it’s done. The beep came close to setting off my smoke-alarm-and-related-loud-noises panic-attack-thingie (I’ve never understood that), but was just below the threshold. Which is to say it’s a little loud, but not terribly so. At least you’ll hear it in the next room.
While it took longer than 90 seconds (I think that’s supposed to be for really light waffles on the crisp/moist setting, specifically), it took only barely longer. We had three people and by the time one person was done eating his waffle, the queue for the next waffle had just come around to him again. So it was perfect.
Features: The crisp/moist setting supposedly retains more flavor, and I have to admit it’s awfully delicious. The chocolate chip waffle recipe that comes in the instruction booklet is quite yummy, particularly with a little fake butter and maple syrup, and blueberry waffles are fantastic too!!
The lights are bright and it’s easy to tell when they’re on or off. The non-stick coating works quite well – we didn’t experience any sticking at all, and that’s without oil. (The old metal on-the-stove one stuck all the time, even with lots of oil.) We haven’t actually had a single overflow yet, so I don’t know whether the overflow channel will work, but it certainly looks like it will. The floating hinge works its magic – even waffles every time. The batter distributes very evenly; no more partial waffles like in the stove iron.
The waffle iron is very easy to clean. Which is to say, most of the time you don’t have to clean it at all. When we made chocolate chip waffles, we had to wipe off a little chocolate. Hardly worth mentioning, really.
You should only touch the lid on the black plastic parts while the waffle iron is hot – the stainless part gets pretty hot. This could be a little worrisome if you have children, as the stainless part is a large part of the lid. Keep the little ones away from this.
The cord storage is a little awkward, but it does work. I have seen better cord storage than this.
The instruction manual includes a surprising range of recipes – basic, basic using a packaged mix, various fruit waffles, “European home style waffles,” cornmeal waffles, chocolate chip waffles, and waffle brownies! The recipes are surprisingly good for ones that come with the waffle maker.
Overall: We love this waffle iron. We get delicious waffles in – literally – minutes. No more eating your waffles after everyone else is done because it takes so long (or eating soggy lukewarm waffles). No more aggravating the tendonitis with the heavy thing you have to flip. It’s easy to store and even easier to clean. You have a surprising level of control over the texture and color, particularly given that you really just sit around and wait for the beep. You can fine-tune your color choice over the course of the waffles, fiddling with it until you’re really happy with it.
There’s just one problem–the beeping is so loud it kind of sounds like a truck backing up, which can be heart-attack inducing.
Added later: This waffle iron lasted between 2 and 2.5 years of light-to-moderate use before (very suddenly and unexpectedly) giving up the ghost. I guess I’ll drop my rating to 3 (sigh).