As a professional recipe developer, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. In fact, I often refer to myself as a “professional dishwasher,” and while it’s a joke, it’s not that far off. Despite these references, when I tell people that a kitchen scale is one of the useful and useful tools you can own for cooking and baking, I am often met with skepticism. It sounds like something too finicky or controlling for the everyday cook – sure, it might be something a professional pastry chef would use, but isn’t it easier to just grab a set of nested measuring cups?
Certainly not! A kitchen scale is a must have for anyone who wants to be a better, happier, healthier cook. This is a game-changer in two ways: First, the accuracy of a scale makes it a 100% guaranteed approach to keeping your portion size control. Second, it’s a complete champion in making your prep work and ingredient measurement more efficient. Precision and efficiency? Two of the sweetest words in my book.
Even as a professional cook, I have always found portion control to be one of the hardest things to control and understand. I’m frankly terrible looking at a single serving of pasta and figuring out how much a block of cheese makes 1 ounce. Trying to estimate those portions didn’t do me a favor and all of that excess just piled up around my waist. But with a kitchen scale, it’s easy to see exactly how much I’m eating and how much I should cut back. Half a cup of almonds (2 1/2 ounces) might seem like a reasonable snack for the day, but when you realize you’ve eaten a whole cup of almonds all at once, it’s a big eye-opener. . Never again!
And then there’s the help it provides with preparation and measurement, even better than a second set of hands. Whether or not you own a dishwasher, I’m sure you’ll agree that the stack of dishes left in the sink after cooking isn’t the favorite part of the meal. But by using a kitchen scale, you can drastically reduce this heap. Instead of chopping onions, then stacking them in a 1-cup measuring cup, then scraping them up and adding them to a mixing bowl or saucepan, wouldn’t you prefer to just chop a 6-ounce onion and add it directly to your bowl?
For an even more visually compelling example of the time and dishes you’ll save with a scale, I’ve made this delicious chocolate beetroot cupcake recipe measuring both weight and volume. Measuring everything from beetroot puree to chocolate chips to cocoa powder by volume leaves you with a mess of measuring cups. But if you are measuring by weight, you will only need 3 bowls: one for the melted chocolate, one for the cupcake batter, and one for the frosting. It’s a huge difference!
Ready to buy a kitchen scale and change your life? Look for a scale with these two functions:
- a tare / zero button, which allows you to zero the weight between additions to the bowl
- the ability to switch between ounces (oz) and grams (g), as many baking recipes include both (Why? It’s easier to measure out smaller amounts of ingredients like herbs, spices or yeast in grams because they are so light.)
Try it out and get cupcakes!
Chocolate and beetroot cupcakes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 3 1/2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1 8-ounce package mashed steamed beets (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 8 ounces (16 tbsp; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 8 1/2 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/4 cup milk
- 4 ounces (8 tbsp; 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
- 21 grams (1/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a standard 12-well cupcake pan with paper liners.
Melt chocolate chips in a medium (1-2 quart) heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the mashed beets.
Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to minimum and stir in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Stir in the flour, baking powder, milk and reserved chocolate and beets.
Divide the dough evenly between the cupcake pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rounded and starting to crack slightly.
Let cool completely on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and vanilla extract in a large bowl on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes until light and fluffy. frothy. Reduce mixer speed to low and add sugar 1/4 cup at a time. Work slowly! Repeat with the cocoa powder, then stir in the cream until the icing is smooth.
Frost cooled cupcakes and serve.