A name like Babycakes immediately conjures an image of something twee and precious, and the Babycakes Mini Waffle Sticks Maker is indeed a chubby-cheeked cherub of kitchen appliances.
This little unitasker is designed to pop out four perfectly cooked waffle sticks in three minutes, and that's what it does. That's all it does, for which we cannot fault it.
The waffle sticks maker is a tiny thing, about the size of a bread pan, so although it will inevitably clutter the back of your cupboard, it won't hog space the way the bread machine and that roasting pan you use once a year at Thanksgiving do. The company sent one for me to test, and while I'm not sold on the need for one in my kitchen, I have to admit the waffle sticks turned out nice.
The appliance comes with an instruction manual that includes a few recipes, but the manual refers to a measuring cup that didn't come with this model (the WMM-40). Too bad, because a measuring cup sized for the machine would have been handy for the first pour. I managed to overfill the griddle and sploosh puddles of batter all over the counter. (Pro tip: Use a slow pour from a measuring cup with a spout, and stop before you think you should.)
Time: Starting with about two cups of batter, I made 43 waffle sticks in 45 minutes. It would have been 44 sticks, but I think the countertop overflow ate one.
Each batch of four sticks takes at least three minutes to cook, and the machine lacks a timer. The griddle chief is pretty much tied to the appliance in a repetitive process of pour, time, fork-lift out, hand off to happy eaters. Making waffles this way is a lot of work, and by the time you're halfway through the batter, you're ready to be done.
At 45 minutes for one batch of waffle batter, it's not a fast weekday morning breakfast, which means waffles are still a weekend treat (or a weekend "mom in the kitchen baking and freezing for hours" marathon to prepare for quick weekday breakfasts).
Safety: The machine has no switches or buttons and only one warning light. Plug it in, and the light turns on to indicate pre-heating. The light goes out when the griddle is hot. That seems dangerous to me, since the only difference between a cold, safe-to-touch griddle and a hot, burn-your-hand griddle is whether the plug's in the wall. I wouldn't let children use it unsupervised.
The manual recommends using an oven mitt or pot holder when working with the griddle, but leveraging the sticks out with a fork takes a little more dexterity than that. The whole machine will get hot, however, and the steam forms condensation on the plastic housing.
The rubber feet slide a bit on the counter, which means a stuck stick is a problem, because too much force on the fork to pop it free will send the hot appliance skidding away. (Much like dropping a knife, the crucial thing to remember: Don't reach for it!)
Cleaning: Once the waffle-making is done, unplugging the unit turns it off. No lights will tell you when it's cool enough to touch, but my test model took 15 to 20 minutes to cool down after one batch. It only took about four minutes to heat up, which was good, because I was really craving waffle sticks at that point.
The griddle plates are not removable, and the cleaning method is closer to a seasoned cast-iron skillet. Wipe it down with a damp cloth and you're good to go. A bit of oil can loosen stubborn bits of batter.
The toughest spot is the gap between the plates and the plastic housing; a toothpick is needed there if you've had any overflow.
Taste: The ultimate test, of course, is whether the machine makes good waffle sticks. It does. Really, really good waffle sticks.
Using a wire rack or passing the sticks immediately to a hungry eater, you'll get a solid crunch. The sticks turned out light, crispy and golden. They'll soften after half an hour or so, but they still taste delicious, even cold.
The machine's a good pick for a decorating and dipping party, with everyone encouraged to pick his or her own toppings while one person mans the griddle. Flavored syrups, melted chocolate, jams and jellies, ice cream — the choices are vast.
Aside from the standard syrup-dipped sticks, we made peanut butter and jelly waffle stick sandwiches, which were a big hit.
But next time, I'd rather be eating the waffle sticks instead of standing at the counter fiddling with a hot griddle while trapped in a three-minute time loop.
I meshed recipes from the Babycakes Mini Waffle Sticks Maker manual and a Bisquick box for the test run:
2 cups Bisquick
1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 tablespoon sugar
Mix all ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix; batter will be lumpy. Pour onto the pre-heated griddle and cook each batch for three minutes. Makes about 44 waffle sticks.
For more information about the waffle sticks maker, visit www.thebabycakesshop.com.
— Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.