Pros: Cheap price. Not too big.
Cons: Small waffles.Attached cord.
I have fond memories of delicious waffles from our trips to Cape May. On the last day of each trip we make the requisite trip to Uncle Bills where I always order the strawberry waffles, a stack piled high with that tasty fruit and whipped cream. I always promise myself Ill try something different but never do. Maybe next time.
One year we stayed and the Marquis De Lafayette and one of the amenities was an incredible breakfast served on the third floor. I can still remember the cook in his tall chefs hat making the big, thick Belgian waffles. A large waffle machine, like none wed ever seen before was set up for breakfasters to make their own waffles. Above the machine was an explicit set of directions in large print making the baking almost foolproof. These were heavenly waffles with a taste that elicits groans of pleasure rivaling those even of Meg Ryan. Maybe thats why we got so many stares.
Anyway in an attempt to recapture some of this culinary magic, I decided to purchase a waffle maker for our very own. Being a cheapskate of the first order, I bought the Toastmaster Belgian Waffle Baker at the local discount store for 10 bucks.
What it is
The Toastmaster weighs in at a little under four pounds. Counting the handy molded on handle, it measures approximately 9 x 8 inches, not taking up a lot of room on the countertop. The cooking grid is about 4 by 8 inches in size. On the bottom are two cushioned feet and an oval base/stand around which the owner may wrap the cord.
Printed on the bottom of this appliance are the obligatory warnings:
HOUSEHOLD USE ONLY
DO NOT IMMERSE IN WATER
CAUTION: HOT SURFACES
A clasp is at the end of the handle to make sure the unit stays closed during cooking. The plastic clasp is unfastened easily to open the unit and remove the waffles. On the top of the unit are two small lights, green and red. The red light indicates that the power is on; the green light signifies that the unit is preheating. When the green light goes off, it has reached operating temperature. The green light will come on and off during cooking.
The owners guide recommends conditioning the nonstick grid surface before each heating following a cleaning. That would be pretty much every time you use it. To condition the grid, the user is to coat the surface with solid vegetable shortening, not the spray on kind. After the unit is allowed to preheat for five minutes or so, its time to make some waffles. WARNING: THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE VERTICALLY CHALLENGED, AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, SHOULD USE A SMALL AMOUNT OF SHORTENING. You can't afford to get any shorter.
Once the unit is preheated raise the lid and pour a half-cup of waffle batter onto the lower grid. Filling the upper grid really makes a mess. Any waffle mix or recipe may be used. Allow the waffle(s) to bake 2 to 4 minutes depending on the recipe and individual preferences. Our handy guide suggests checking on your waffles after most of the steaming has stopped. If steaming stops and then resumes with a darker, more opaque smoke, the waffles are probably burning and are terminal.
The cooked waffle should be removed with a plastic spatula of reasonable size, not the shovel sized Kitchen Aid described in an earlier review of mine. If you can take a little heat, you could probably scoop them onto the plate with your fingers. Just be careful not to touch that hot grid. While the units open pour another half cup of batter onto the grid for a second batch.
When finished baking, unplug your little Toastmaster and allow cooling before cleaning.
Clean the grids as you would clean any non-stick surface using an electric sander or grinder or a highly abrasive steel wool . JUST KIDDING!! You know the drill. Clean with a cloth, brush or a plastic mesh puff or pad. Just try not to make a mesh of things.
Random Thoughts and Observations
The Toastmaster Belgian Waffle Maker is easy to use and its small size makes it easy to store. Its small size also makes for smallish waffles. Theyre about the size of their frozen cousins purchased from your local grocerys freezer. The size of these waffles didnt trigger any memories of Cape May, but did bring back some images of the Safeway frozen food aisle.
On the box were told that this is one of many Toastmaster appliances made available to use to ease the chore of cooking. This waffle maker doesnt offer much relief. You still have to prepare the waffle batter, and theres the inevitable cleanup of dishes and flatware, and the waffle maker itself.
Mrs. Spudman misread the directions on her first use and doubled the amount of batter poured in. Surprisingly it didnt result in a catastrophe, just a little bit of extra mess.
Its convenient to have a place to wrap the cord, but once wrapped theres no place to park the plug, making it easy for the cord to unwrap itself.
The waffles themselves were pretty good, but nothing like the Cape May waffles. Of course memories sometimes can distort , intensify, and exaggerate reality. Well have to try some other recipes.
Before posting this review and after I had written all but this very paragraph, Mrs. Spudman made some actual Belgian waffles with some actual Belgian waffle mix using this appliance. This batch was far superior to the previous batches. There is some trial and error involved in using this machine. Eventually one gets a feel for how much batter to place in the waffle maker and how much time the waffles must cook to emerge satisfactorily.
The numbers offered in the owners manual are approximations at best.
The owners guide contains a recipe for Belgian waffles. The recipe also is written in French and Spanish for those who prefer French or Latin cooking.
The box promises deeply indented waffles that can hold more fruit, syrup and other indulgences. I always fall for this stuff. It does hold more than a Saltine or a small pancake. The exact meaning of more is unclear here. The waffles are definitely indented, but not impressively so.
There was a strange label on the cord. The power cord of this product contains lead, a product known to the state of California to cause cancer, and birth defects, and other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling. Kind of disconcerting, isnt it?
The Verdict? Im going to have to waffle here. Id have to rate the Toastmaster Belgian Waffle Maker as OK, not great, not terrible, but OK. For ten bucks, I suppose OK is just fine.