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Ice Cream Cone Makers

Published July 2012

How we tested

The best homemade ice cream is worlds better than any store-bought stuff, so how about serving it in homemade cones, too? We tested two ice cream cone makers, by Chef’s Choice ($49.95) and Smart Planet ($29.99), which look and work just like electric waffle irons. We made up a batch of fresh waffle cones in each and compared their flavor, texture, and shape to our favorite supermarket waffle cones by Joy. To use the makers, you spoon batter (a recipe is provided by the manufacturer) into the center of the preheated, nonstick iron. After about a minute, you remove the browned wafer, quickly roll it around the cone-shaped plastic mold (included), and pinch the tip to prevent leaks. The cone hardens within seconds.

Both machines were fast, easy to use, and made crisp, professional-looking cones that had a much better taste and texture than the store-bought cone. The Chef’s Choice, which features a color-control knob, gave more even browning and didn’t require oiling before each use. The Smart Planet, though its pattern was prettier, produced slightly blotchy cones and required a liberal application of cooking spray or oil before each use or the cones stuck. A channel around the edge of the Chef’s Choice captures excess batter, for easier cleanup; the Smart Planet didn’t have one, so batter spilled down its sides, leaving us trying to scrape baked-on batter out of the latch and hinges. It may have a much lower price, but the Smart Planet machine also seems cheaply constructed, so for ease of use and consistent results, we preferred the Chef’s Choice waffle-cone maker. It’s pricey and certainly not an essential kitchen gadget, but if you want fresh, tasty cones, the Chef’s Choice set makes it quick and easy.

The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.