Deciding which whisk to use involves culinary nutrition science and a hint of physics. Whisks can mix dry ingredients or aerate and emulsify wet ingredients for sauces, batters, foams and beverages. Choosing the whisk that performs best depends on the shape and number of wire tines (see Food & Nutrition's "Are You Using the Right Whisk?" for more information and tips).
In culinary school I favored a French whisk, which could meet the culinary demands of professional French kitchens. The Rösle whisks I tested for home kitchens include a similar all-purpose whisk, and also whisks with shapes that resembled culinary cat toys or miniature plumbing tools. Read on to find out how Rösle’s whisks worked for me.
All-Purpose Balloon Whisks
All-purpose whisks can mix thick and thin liquids, blend dry ingredients and whip cream and egg whites. Soufflés or lower-fat desserts such as meringue cookies, Pavlovas and angel food cake require stable, whipped egg whites. Balloon whisks accomplish this by slowly incorporating air and extra volume without developing large bubbles that collapse quickly. Electric mixers whip at faster speeds and can easily over-whip egg whites.
I used the 11-tined Rösle Balloon Whisk/Beater to make Chantilly cream. At 7.6 ounces, the weight of this heavy whisk was noticeable when whipping cream to soft peaks, but I felt like I had passed a ninja cooking test. For making a béchamel sauce, as with all balloon whisks, it was tough to press tines into pot corners — this is when a sauce whisk helps.
Flat and spiral whisks, like those from the Rösle line I tested, deglaze and thicken pan sauces and make roux-based sauces or gravies.
The Rösle Flat Whisk blended a roux well, and its shape easily reached into corners and scraped the pot sides for a soy béchamel. However, it performed best with skillets or large pots since the short and straight handle limited maneuvering in smaller pots.
The Rösle Spiral Whisk, which also is sometimes called a vinaigrette, spring or coiled whisk, has a rounded loop covered in spiraled wire with an angled handle. The design allows a large contact surface area for mixing and to prevent scorching of sauces. I used it to make a low-fat mustard béchamel for crêpes and a shallot vinaigrette. It failed at mixing a roux, which packed into the spiraled wires, but quickly produced a smooth béchamel, and it worked fine for making a vinaigrette.
A Specialty Whisk
Looking like a cat toy, the Twirl Whisk’s springy, spiraled wire creates airy mixes and consistent textures. Designed for liquids made in small or narrow dishes, it whisks and lifts by pumping ingredients. It mixed small volumes well — I used it to twirl chocolate into a cup of milk for Parisian hot-chocolate, and I tried it out when making almond crêpe batter — but for the latter, the tines were not stiff enough to reduce some graininess of the batter.
One Whisk to Rule Them All?
Professional cooks or avid home cooks can usually make due with one balloon whisk and also may appreciate a sauce whisk, particularly the flat version, which stores easily. For use with ingredients in small quantities or cup-sized beverages, smaller versions of balloon whisks or the twirl whisk can expand your options.
I’d recommend Rösle whisks in general for their sturdy 18/10 stainless steel and elegant design. The cost of these whisks is on the high end, but cheaply made whisks tend to break down quickly. And, with the Rösle lifetime guarantee, your batter-making, crêpe-flipping, egg-whipping and hot chocolate days are secured.