It's especially useful when puréeing hot soups, because transferring boiling liquids from stockpot to blender can be a risky proposition. Try a hand blender for vinaigrettes, sauces, batters, and beverages.
Get the Tool: Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender in Turquoise, $35; cuisinart.com
For an on-the-go breakfast smoothie, combine ingredients in a sturdy, wide-mouth glass, and then process for a couple of seconds. Use frozen fruit to keep your smoothie frosty cold.
- Recipe: Raspberry Mango Smoothie
Evey great cook knows garlic's power. The pungent bulb's big flavor and aroma only get released when it's cut—and the smaller the pieces, the stronger they are. Traditional garlic presses crush bulbs into a pasty mixture, releasing oil and flavor—but most are a notorious hassle to clean, leaving behind so much garlic residue in the gizmo that you might find yourself abandoning the thing for knife and cutting board. This rock star of a press has a streamlined design you can stick with. You just place peeled cloves on the cutting board and press down—rocking back and forth to force them up through the mesh—then swipe perfectly crushed garlic into your recipe. With no moving parts, it's easy to clean with running water or in the dishwasher. Now keep calm and press on.
Get the Tool: Joseph Joseph Rocker Garlic Crushers in Purple, Black, and Green, $10 each; amazon.com
Botanical cocktails are all the rage, and for good reason—these inventive concoctions made from fresh fruits and herbs are filled with complex aromas and flavors. What's the secret? Muddling—crushing the ingredients against the bottom and sides of a glass to infuse your drink with a wallop of flavor. You'll find a ready muddler and more in a handy new gadget. The perfect hostess gift of the season, it packs in 10 tools, so your inner MacGyver can slice, stir, zest, strain, and muddle the fresh ingredients in any festive cocktail.
Get the Tool: Bar10der 10-in-1 Bartending Tool in Green, $30; bedbathandbeyond.com
Try our colorful version of the classic Cuban mojito, starring cranberries and mint for a little holiday flair. The delicious sweet-tart combo makes a refreshing signature cocktail for your next party.
- Recipe: Cranberry Mojito
Get the Tool: Williams-Sonoma Spring-Loaded Round Ravioli Stamp, $16; williams-sonoma.com
Use the Williams-Sonoma Spring-Loaded Round Ravioli Stamp to make our simple and delicious Butternut Squash-Goat Cheese Ravioli. The savory filling is divine, but you can also substitute frozen and thawed prepared creamed spinach, seasoned mashed potatoes, or a blend of shredded cheeses.
Sauces are another story. They need to be smooth, but without added air. For this, a flat whisk is your tool of choice. This multicolor flat-bottom whisk makes quick work of sauces with flexible wires that reach every angle of the pan. And its silicone coating protects nonstick pans and skillets from scratching, preserving their finish.
Get the Tool: Kuhn Rikon Silicone Rainbow Tornado Whisk, $20; chefscatalog.com
The allure of the cupcake isn't crumbling anytime soon. It's just too hard to resist a handheld cake topped with rich frosting, wrapped in a pretty paper cup. But there's a new twist for these mini treats: hidden surprises, like jam, pudding, gooey fudge, or even more frosting (for those who believe you can't have too much of a good thing). Scooping out the middle to tuck in a sweet filling is a one-step task with a cupcake corer, our favorite indulgence-enabling tool. The compact gadget removes the cake's center and ejects it in one piece—a perfect snack for the baker!
Get the Tool: OXO Cupcake Corer in Black/Red, $7; bedbathandbeyond.com
Our homage to St. Patrick's Day features one of the greatest flavor pairings ever conceived: chocolate and mint. Rich chocolate cake surrounds a dense filling of minted fudge, topped by a beautiful swirl of fluffy green buttercream. St. Paddy would approve.
Few things are as wonderful in your kitchen as the smell of freshly baked bread—especially when it's hot from the oven with a crisp crust and soft inside just begging for a swipe of sweet butter. To achieve perfect results, professional bakers use stone-hearth ovens and steam. It's their secret for getting the right balance of heat and humidity to produce artisan bread with that distinctive color and crust crunch we crave. Home bakers attempt to introduce humidity by baking bread with a pan of hot water in the oven, or by using a spray bottle to periodically spritz the dough with water. Now, there's a simpler way. A bread cloche simulates the environment of a professional hearth oven. The stone bottom slowly conducts and retains heat, while the domed lid traps steam for the ideal amount of moisture.
Get the Tool: Emile Henry Bread Cloche in Red, $130; surlatable.com
Our Asiago-Rosemary-Pepper Bread is a delicious, rustic treat when simply dipped in olive oil, toasted alongside your favorite breakfast eggs, or surrounding deli meat and cheese as a mouthwatering, bistro-style sandwich.
- Recipe: Asiago-Rosemary-Pepper Bread