Hand mixers are popular and practical for small, everyday cooking and baking tasks. They have evolved from a basic two-speed flimsy and limited kitchen tool to a heavier duty accessory capable of completing multiple tasks with quickness and ease. Depending on the brand, the size of the motor and the chosen accessories, many cooks prefer the mobility and ease of hand mixers over the heavy-duty---and heavy---stand mixers that take up so much kitchen counter space.
The most basic hand mixer consists of the motorised body, two standard beaters and speed controls. The controls are usually on the top of the mixer and can range from one to 10 settings, offering mixing options ranging from a simulated slow hand mix/fold to a high speed, high revolution whipping cream setting. Many brands offer a power burst option for mixing challenges. The blades are normally made of metal, preferred based on heat resistance and ease of cleaning, or moulded plastic. Heel rests are standard on most mixers; some models provide stands to store the mixer or a lip to attach the idle mixer to the side of the mixing bowl while adding ingredients.
In addition to the basic beaters, many brands offer whisk attachments that quickly whipped cream and are ideal for making frostings, icings and other recipes that require the incorporation of air to achieve the desired results. Dough hooks are available for some models although many have not been popular because the mixer motor could not support the kneading action for many heavy bread doughs.
Corded Versus Cordless
The electrical cords on hand mixers can be bothersome. As the cook twirls the mixer around the bowl to achieve the desired results, the cord can become twisted and impede the process by getting in the way of the beaters. Cordless models eliminate this problem but often sacrifice the preferred powerful motors desired by cooks.
Other than choosing models with the desired accessories and speeds, check the wattage of the hand mixer motors. If the wattage is too low, the mixer's life will be shortened if it is overworked, and it will perform poorly. Higher wattage will increase the appliance's life expectancy and ensure optimum performance for most cooking projects. Cordless models are especially affected by wattage capacities.
Mixing It Up
Both novice and experienced cooks quickly realise accomplishments in the kitchen are more successful more often when the right tools are utilised Hand mixers are practical tools but should not be expected to handle tasks more appropriate for sturdier stand mixers, blenders or hand blenders. Just as it is possible but not practical to pound a nail with the head of a screwdriver rather than use a hammer, the wrong tool for the job is not only frustrating but can also be dangerous.