Professional chef Cheryl Bennett of Pook’s Pantry shares her recommendations for great gifts for adventurous cooks and exceptional bakers this holiday season.
We all have someone in our lives that loves to cook and/or bake, right? Finding a unique gift for adventurous cooks or exceptional bakers can be a challenge, because they probably have the basics and then some. So, what do you get for the cook or baker that has most everything? If you are looking for something a little different or unique, I’ve got you covered.
Or maybe that avid cook or baker is you! If you want to “up your game” and take your cooking or baking to the next level or experiment with something unfamiliar, these tools and ingredients will help you elevate your baking or cooking to Rockstar Status. Share this list with your nearest and dearest!
Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? That’s where it all starts! Learning about a new ingredient and how it will transform a dish is exciting stuff and discovering that a tool you’ve never even heard of can make your life easier than ever imagined is life-changing. That’s how I felt when I entered the cooking game more than 15 years ago. This list is full of fun ingredients and unique tools for the cook or baker who loves playing in the kitchen.
Gifts for the Advanced or Adventurous Home Cook
- Himalayan Salt Plank ($26.99) – Warm this block of salt on the stove or grill and sear fish, meat or veggies right on the salt. You can also chill it to serve cold appetizers or use it for a really unique cheese board!
- Chinois ($34.44) – A chinois is a VERY fine mesh strainer. These are like gold in a restaurant! It has so many uses, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. It’s perfect for straining stock and sauces, and the mesh is fine enough to wash quinoa without watching it go down the drain.
- Precision Cooker ($146.01) Ready to dip your toes into the sous vide, so to speak? This is a great tool to get you started. It’s reasonably priced and works with Bluetooth, which makes it very easy to keep an eye on dinner when you’re not home.
- Cutting Board I flipped when I saw this board. As of right now, it is still “in the works”, but This thing is a game-changer. Seriously.
- Stainless Steel Ravioli Pin ($79.00) Make ravioli? Yeah, anyone can buy ravioli, but making it from scratch cements your Rockstar status.
- Aged Balsamic Vinegar ($39.99) This is aged 20 years and is a nice middle-of-the-road price for good balsamic. It’s sweet and syrupy, perfect for drizzling on cheese!
- World Traveler Spice Rubs ($33.97) Shichimi Togarashi, Ras el Hanout and Piri Piri are just a few of the spices you’ll find in this unique collection.
- Tortilla Press ($27.43) This makes tortilla making a breeze, but don’t limit yourself to just making tortillas with this bad boy! Think of all the other things you can make with a filled dough: pierogies, empanadas, pot stickers, etc. It can even double as a tostone maker!
- Spider (skimmer) ($19.69) Absolutely essential for retrieving deep-fried items from hot oil or delicate ravioli from boiling water without breaking them. Another item that is in constant use in a professional kitchen.
- Microplane ($13.40) No kitchen should be without one of these. Finely grate everything from citrus to garlic.
- Sharpening Stone ($28.00) We all know that a steel is not for sharpening knives, right? This is the tool you need to put that sharp edge back on your dull blade. It is the exact stone I own and love.
- Demi Glace ($23.44) Get restaurant quality sauces with this stuff. It’s magical. This is how we do it!
- Spanish Cheeses ($30.21) This is a GREAT assortment and a really good price for 2 pounds of cheese! Put together a gourmet spread for your next gathering with these artisanal cheeses from Spain.
Gifts for the Exceptional Baker
- Lustre Dust ($5.95) – brush on fondant covered cakes or cookies with royal icing to create a glittery effect or mix with clear alcohol (vodka) for painting.
- Aspic Cutters ($8.37) – These small cutters are used for jellies or aspic. I don’t make many aspics, do you? I use them to out shapes for pie crust or cookies, they are great for cutting small shapes from fondant to decorate cakes and cupcakes.
- Flavored Salts ($32.45) – Finish your baked goods with these awesome flavored salts, including lemon zest, vanilla bean and Stumptown coffee.
- Culinary Torch ($17.99) – Make perfect crème brûlée, brown meringue or melt a few marshmallows indoors!
- Food Dehydrator ($224.99) – This isn’t any old dehydrator, this is the Ferrari of the dehydrators! Make your own fruit leather, strawberry or banana chips, garnishes for holiday baking, etc. This big boy does it all!
- Runamok Maple Syrup ($19.95) – Maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels. Yes, bourbon. Aging the maple syrup in bourbon barrels gives this syrup a subtle smoky flavor. This one is on my Christmas list! Maple buttercream, anyone? Perhaps a drizzle over your apple crisp?
- Marble Pastry Board ($59.95) – Marble helps keep butter and pastry cool while you are working. This board also has non-skid feet so it won’t move when you roll out pie crust! Plus, it measures 16”x20”, so it’s large enough to handle any job.
- Bread Proofing Basket ($19.75) – Maybe you are ready to try your hand at bread baking? This proofing basket will help give your bread a crispy crust and a perfectly round loaf. It also holds up to 3 lbs of dough, so no fear of your precious dough rising over the edges and spilling onto the counter.
- Mockmill ($199.00) Grind your own grains and legumes into flour. For the serious home baker!
Disclaimer: Prices are all accurate on the date published and are subject to change. All links, save the Kickstarter cutting board, are Amazon affiliate links.