When it comes to baking – or cooking – there are a lot of variables at work. Atmosphere, ingredients, tools, and of course, the chef who’s making all the magic happen. But there’s one HUGE variable that makes all the difference – temperature. And if you think that the temperature of your oven is the only one you need to worry about, think again!
There are so many ways that temperature comes into play in the kitchen, which is why you need a way to measure temperature so that you can control it. Unfortunately, this is where things get messy. Look for a kitchen thermometer and you’re going to be bombarded with a pile of different types – candy, chocolate, meat, infrared, instant, dial, digital, you name it. And you can go ahead and buy a separate thermometer for every different use you require, or you can just get smart and go with what I think is the best route – the ThermoWorks Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen.
I’ve gone the first route, thinking that a standard, cheap candy thermometer was all I really needed. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to realize how wrong I was. I’ve since gotten a chance to work with what I always heard was the “Rolls Royce” of kitchen thermometers, and now I have no doubt the Thermapen is the way to go. Here’s why:
- Design – One of the first things you’ll notice about the Thermapen is how sleek and simple it looks. Its design is purely functional, stripped down to only the important elements – the body, the screen, and the probe. Less is more, and the simplicity of the Thermapen makes it easy to use and easy to clean. Unlike my old candy thermometer, I don’t have to worry about extra bulk that makes certain uses impractical (or impossible), and unlike many of the thermometers on the market, the Thermapen doesn’t give me all sorts of buttons to do something as simple as take a temperature. I love that I don’t have to get at eye level to read the temperature, or try to decipher the tick marks on my old analog thermometer, especially when I’m dealing with a fast process and don’t have the time for mistakes. I also love the thin, sharp probe on the Thermapen; I can stick it in solid foods, like a loaf of bread, without cringing at the idea of putting a huge hole in the middle of something I’m going to be serving. And, of course, it’s splashproof! In the kitchen, that’s pretty important.
- Ease of Use – Because the Thermapen is designed so well, it’s incredible easy to use. Unfold the probe, stick it in the food or liquid you need to measure, get a temperature reading within 3 seconds, and fold the probe back in place. Done. When I’m in the kitchen, I get messy. The last thing I need is a thermometer that’s difficult to turn on or use, but with the Thermapen, I don’t have to worry about that. I also don’t have to deal with trying to clip a thermometer on my curved-edge pots (pretty much impossible), or allot extra time in my cooking process to get a temperature reading. I can get a reading so quickly that the extra steps aren’t necessary.
- Function – A kitchen thermometer isn’t worth it’s salt if it doesn’t give you an accurate temperature reading, but that’s one thing you definitely don’t have to worry about here. Function and accuracy were the main reasons why I knew I needed a new kitchen thermometer in the first place. My old thermometer had a limited range of temperatures, and because the glass didn’t stay in place, I literally found myself testing my thermometer before every use and putting sharpie marks in the position where the glass needed to be for an accurate reading. At that point, I dreaded ever needing to pull it out for a recipe. In fact, I often felt safer going by visual cues for accurate temperature rather than relying on my thermometer. But with the Thermapen, I have no doubt that I’m getting an accurate reading. In fact, I find myself measuring temperatures for my recipes much more often than I ever did before, knowing that the accurate temperatures will help make my recipes that much more foolproof. I also love the auto-shut off feature, which means that I don’t have to worry about my thermometer dying if I forget to turn it off after I use it (which could easily happen when I’m busy in the kitchen). And because the Thermapen’s temperature range goes from a whopping -58.0° to 572°F, I can use the Thermapen for virtually everything I might need to do in the kitchen.
So just what all can you do with the Thermapen? Let’s take a look.
Here’s 10 reasons why you need a good kitchen thermometer:
1. Check the internal temperature of a loaf of bread to make sure it’s finished baking.
2. Check the temperature of liquids before adding them to yeast so you don’t kill your yeast.
3. Get serious about making good bread, and scald your milk before using it in a yeast recipe to kill the enzymes that can mess with your yeast.
4. Temper chocolate.
5. Make marshmallows, or fudge, or caramel, or any other sort of candy.
6. Cook meats to a safe temperature.
7. Ensure that eggs are cooked thoroughly when they’re not being “cooked” in the traditional sense. More specifically, cook egg yolks in a custard base for ice cream, mousse, etc. enough to kill dangerous bacteria.
8. Make sure you don’t OVERCOOK a custard and cause it to curdle – yuck.
9. Check to make sure an ice cream base is cold enough before churning it.
10. Chill ingredients enough to use them in a recipe without effecting other components of the recipe. Think melted chocolate, browned butter, or other ingredients that might need to be cooled down before using.
It’s amazing how easily the Thermapen can do all of these things! And while it comes at a price, I can pretty much guarantee that once you add up the costs of the various thermometers you’ll end up buying to do different kitchen tasks, plus the ones you’ll buy to replace those that will inevitably break or stop working, you’ll have spent at least as much as you would to buy one Thermapen, if not two! And that is precisely why I recommend the Thermapen; it’s useful, it works, and it’s worth it.
Have any questions about my thoughts on the Thermapen? Let me know and I’ll be happy to elaborate!
Disclosure: This product review is purely based on my own opinions of the product discussed. I was not paid to write this review, and all opinions are based on my personal experience with the product. I was provided with the product by the manufacturer to make this review possible, and there are affiliate links within this post.