Gadget name: Mini Cupcake Maker by Smart Planet
It looks like: The Mini Cupcake Maker resembles a waffle iron, but instead of waffle plates, the interior has seven small holes for cupcake batter on the bottom, and a single domed top.
How it’s supposed to work: It promises that you can bake a batch of seven mini cupcakes in five minutes.
How we tested it: When the green light on the lid turns on, you spritz on baking spray, spoon in your homemade or box-mix cake batter, close the lid—and set your own timer, because the Mini Cupcake Maker doesn’t have one. Five minutes later, we opened the top to find steamed cupcakes, completely pale. We put them back in another two minutes and peeked in again—no browning. And again. And again. At the end of 11 minutes, we removed the cupcakes, which didn’t stick (we’d have been surprised if they did with the combo of the machine’s nonstick coating and the baking spray called for in the instructions). The cakes’ bottoms were lightly browned, but the tops, while nicely domed, remained pale. Repeated batches with both homemade and box-mix batter took equally long to bake with the same results.
How it actually works: The cupcakes themselves tasted fine, and except for some tunneling where steam created holes, their texture was fine, too. But compared to the 12 minutes it took to bake a full dozen mini cupcakes in the oven, this machine was no time-saver.
Good to know: It cleaned up easily; however, we had to struggle a bit to wash and rinse it without getting the machine too wet.
Best for: It might be fun as an activity with children, but most kids would probably become bored with waiting before the second half-dozen cupcakes are done, and you’d be trapped, baking off the rest of the batter, tiny batch after tiny batch.
Overall: Would we buy this? No. We’ll stick with the oven, where we can bake a couple dozen mini cupcakes in the time it takes this machine to steam seven.
What’s your favorite cupcake-baking tip or trick?