The Test Kitchen folks are known for their rigorous testing of recipes, but also give lots of recommendations on products. They consider not only how well a product performs, but also how affordable the product is. It seems they're a truly a real home cook's best friend, particularly if that home cook is just starting out.
So, this is a shout out to all the products rated with a "Highly Recommend" by America's Test Kitchen. Most of these are recent recommendations, coming from my year and three month subscription to Cook's Country magazine. So, without further adieu, here's the list. Clicking on the picture will (*should*) take you to the listing of the product.
Rimmed Baking Sheet
ATK recommends this as their go-to rimmed baking sheet in the Feb/March 2012 magazine. They say it deals well with high heat and is incredibly versatile; they use it not only as one would typically use a jelly pan, but that it's even more handy because it can be used for other applications with a cooling rack inside it.
Also recommended in the Feb/March 2012 magazine, ATK liked the OXO cookie jar because of its tight seal and relative ease for cleaning. They do warn that the lid is difficult to clean (but how often do you really need to clean the lid for your cookie jar? Err, maybe I'm just gross....)
ATK rated this in their Dec/Jan 2011 magazine. They liked the "comfortable handles" and locking system as well as its ability to collapse for storage. Further, this product can carry not only cakes, but also cupcakes. Reviewers on amazon, to some extent, complain that the handle is not well made and that they have dropped cakes by holding it only by the handle (to which there were many responses that you should NEVER trust a handle on its own for a cake without supporting it by the bottom). Another reviewer's response was that he/she thinks CI is "deplorable" and doesn't know why anyone trusts them. I don't know; I like them (obviously!)
Also in their Dec/Jan 2011 issue, Cook's Country recommends the Crock Pot Touchscreen Slow Cooker. They like the 6qt size, its keep warm setting, and a power light. Further, the crock is dishwasher safe (!!) and has its own handles to easily remove it from the base using potholders.
In Feb/Mar 2011, Cook's Country tested spider skimmers. This 13cm skimmer was their pick because of its ease of use and cleaning as well as the angled handle and deep basket.
In the Feb/Mar 2011 issue, Cook's Country didn't rank any muffin tin as "Highly Recommended," but they did rate several as "Recommended."
- First, Wilton Avanti Everglide. They like its wide rims and ease of gripping, even with thick oven mitts, its durability, and its nonstick coating. They also commented on its "acceptably even--though not stellar" browning and its low price.
- Next, the Norpro Nonstick 12-Muffin Cupcake Pan, which got high marks for its relatively even browning and easy release, but got low marks for construction. It has but one extended rim, which oddly enough is on a long side. CC says it was hard to hold.
- The Anolon Advanced Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan had "good 'grab-ability,'" silicone handles, and a raised lip, but is more expensive than the others listed and also got the same rating in browning as the Wilton.
- Finally, Bonjour Commercial Nonstick Bakeware 12-Cup Muffin Pan got high marks for its cupcake performance, but its rating was lowered because blueberry muffins clung to the pan and of its "not generous" handles. It also has the same price as the Anolon.
So there you have it; some of the best rated cooking equipment from the folks at America's Test Kitchen!