Valentine’s Day Dessert Bakeware

Nothing says “I’m sweet on you” like a homemade dessert.

You can keep it simple or make a showstopping dessert—but you’re going to need the right gear. Our winning rubber spatula is comfortable to hold and sturdy enough to scrape bowls, stir melted chocolate, and smooth batter. To properly cool baked goods, you’ll want our top-rated cooling rack. (Insider tip: Set it inside a rimmed baking sheet to contain messes when drizzling melted chocolate or glazes over desserts.) For more dessert inspiration, check out all 206 of the delicious recipes in Everything Chocolate. With our recommended equipment and foolproof recipes, this year’s Valentine’s Day baking will be sweet indeed.

Although the grid pattern on this rack is slightly larger than on the other two models, it’s reinforced with an extra support bar that runs perpendicular to the three main bars. It had a touch more wiggle room in the baking sheets, but it kept pace with the other racks during recipe and durability testing.

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This gold-toned pan produced pristine cheesecakes with golden, evenly baked crusts. A ridge along the top was a great guide for leveling batters, and its tall sides gave us something to grab when turning the full or hot pan. While the pan is prone to slight scratching and is not completely leakproof, its wide, raised base easily caught leaking butter and provided support when cutting slices or removing cake.

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This model can feel oversized, but the long handle offers good leverage in deep bowls and pots. The large, flat blade makes quick work of folding whipped egg whites, which would suffer from too much agitation. You may not use it every day, but it can’t be beat for certain tasks. It lost points for staining, but it eventually did come clean.

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This mixer aced nearly every test, with the exception of the high-hydration pizza dough, flawlessly completing everything from the most basic of tasks (such as whipping two egg whites) to making enough frosting for a three-layer cake. The speed controls and tilt-head lever were straightforward and simple to operate, and the bowl and attachments were easy to put on and take off. We do wish that the bowl had a handle and that the price (about $250) was a bit more relative to the mixer's size (the KitchenAid Classic Plus Series 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is about $230); however, if you want a smaller machine, this is a great option.

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Our previous favorite aced every test, whipping, creaming, and kneading quickly and thoroughly to give us fluffy whipped cream and meringue; light, tender cakes; and chewy, rustic breads. We did have a few design quibbles: We'd prefer a handled bowl (KitchenAid sells stainless-steel or glass bowls with handles separately). The tilt-head latch works fine, but it's slightly less convenient than buttons on other models, and we disliked that you could operate it with the head unlocked. A major plus: It fits all KitchenAid attachments, from meat grinder to ice cream maker (sold separately), so it could stand in for several other appliances. 

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The heaviest, thickest ramekins in our lineup, these sturdy ceramic dishes didn’t slide around in a slippery baking dish and stayed perfectly still while we layered delicate berry pudding. Straight sides meant soufflés and puddings emerged picture-perfect, and thick walls provided gentle insulation, producing baked eggs with creamy whites and runny yolks. A bonus: They stack securely for easy storage.

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This brush had the thickest head of bristles in the testing, allowing it to pick up and deposit the greatest volume of egg wash, oil, butter, or glaze in a single pass. And because the bristles weren't too densely packed, they still felt agile and precise. At a uniform 1.8 inches, they were the ideal length for most tasks (though some testers preferred brushes with slightly longer bristles for getting into the nooks and crannies on fruit tarts). While not as grippy as some, its medium-length, relatively fat, varnished wood handle was still comfortable to hold. Additionally, it lost the fewest bristles during testing.

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With an ergonomic Santoprene rubber handle and a balanced, lightweight feel, this whisk was like an extension of a hand. It whipped cream and egg whites quickly, thanks to 10 wires that were thin enough to move through the liquid quickly but thick enough to push through heavy mixtures and blend pan sauces to smoothness.

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Our old winner is still the best instant-read thermometer on the market. It's dead accurate, fast, and so streamlined and simple that it's a breeze to use. It does just what we want: “Tell me the temp; get out of my way,” as one tester put it. Its long handle gave us plenty of room to maneuver, allowing for multiple grips, and a ring of slightly tacky silicone kept our hands confidently secured. The automatic backlight meant we never had to stop and adjust in low light, and the rotating screen is handy for lefties and righties needing different angles. The auto wake-up function is extremely useful; you don't have to stop and turn the thermometer on again midtask. The digits were large and legible, and it's waterproof in up to 39 inches of water for up to 30 minutes. It's also calibratable, promising years of accuracy.

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