I own a fair amount of kitchen appliances. I have a pressure cooker, a crock pot, an immersion blender, one of those food processor and blender combos, a snow cone machine (which I use all the time, surprisingly), and even a cotton candy maker. But there is one appliance I will never purchase: a hand mixer.
I just don’t understand them. I mean, I get how to use them. You plug them in and mix away. I get that. What I don’t understand is why.
A few years ago, a fellow baking friend was jonesing to make cookies and there was something wrong with her hand mixer. Could she use mine, maybe? I sent her a picture of mine.
And so the truth came out, and it was that I have never owned a hand mixer. All those endless batches of cookies were stirred by a lone wooden spoon. I simply haven’t encountered a recipe I couldn’t handle with either my trusty wooden spoon, a balloon whisk, an egg beater, or some combination of the three.
Here are my four main reasons.
1. The only things hand mixers truly are useful for can be accomplished by other means. I admit, getting egg whites to stiff peaks is a veritable pain in the ass, even with a balloon whisk or an egg beater– but it’s not something I do very often. Whipped cream, however, is super easy using a jar and some heavy whipping cream (just shake it, shake it, Salome). Other than egg whites and whipped cream, is there another reason for a hand mixer I’m missing?
2. Hand mixers are noisy. Baking is something I do to relax. After a stressful day, a batch of lavender honey shortbread cookies fixes all the wrongs I have encountered. It’s right up there with yoga and foot massages. I don’t think the baking experience could possibly be as relaxing if it started out with metal beaters banging against the inside of a bowl. Hand mixers are just one more noisy thing, like coffee grinders and blenders. If there were such a thing as a silent blender, you’d buy it, wouldn’t you? But a blender does something that I can’t accomplish in any other way, so there’s no other option, really. I do, however, have silent options for hand mixers.
3. They are not as easy to clean. My grandmother had a hand mixer once, and before it broke (how often does a spoon inexplicably break?) we used it, and it was my job to wash off the beaters. It’s like washing off two whisks, and whisks are jerks when you are trying to clean them. Just when you think you are done– just kidding! They will still have goop stuck in some tiny crevice that you only see after it has dried on like glue.
4. When I’m done mixing batter or cookie dough, I usually ask my daughter, “Do you want to lick the spoon?” and she comes running from wherever she was in the house, ready to lick not only the spoon but the bowl, too. Would she react the same way if I called out, “Do you want to lick the beaters?” I mean, that just sounds weird, right?
When my husband and I were getting married and registering at Williams-Sonoma a dozen years ago, it didn’t occur to me for a millisecond to register for a hand mixer– though I am still sore that nobody got me the kitchen torch I did register for. You are probably thinking, “Just go buy a kitchen torch for $30, Jessica!” but all those ramekins I did receive are busy doing other things, and while a massive crème brûlée in a pie plate is enticing, I really don’t know what else I would do with a kitchen torch. Actually, the more I think about it, the more this seems like a really good argument for buying a kitchen torch after all.
But a hand mixer? No, thank you.