November 10, 2010

Silicone Baking Mat: A Handy Kitchen Accessory

Recently I picked up something that has been seeing a lot of use:  Silicone baking mats.  I honestly had never heard of them until our recent trip to visit Juli's parents, the one during which I did the batches of Coconut-Lime Sugar Cookies and Thin and Crispy Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies.  They had some made by Silpat, who apparently were the original producers of this sort of product.  I didn't end up trying those on that occasion, but I was intrigued by the idea.

Essentially, you use the mats to line cookie sheets, and bake cookies (or whatever) directly on the mats, rather than on the sheets themselves.  They are resusable, and they clean up really easily.  I found that idea quite attractive, both because anything that reduces clean-up time is always a good thing, but also because I wasn't fond of the cost and hassle of using parchment paper then throwing it away.

When I considered buying some, I discovered they are not particularly cheap.  Williams-Sonoma, for example, sells the original Silpat cookie sheet liner for $24.95, while Bed, Bath and Beyond sells the same (or at least a similar) product for $19.95.   That's not a tremendous amount of money, and I was considering ordering some, until a couple weeks ago when I found some silicone baking mats for a bargain price at - of all places - Aldi.

Kitchen Living is the brand sold at Aldi, and the price is great:  $5.99!   I picked up two of them.  Above, you can see one that has just been used to bake up some cookies (it's still in the cookie sheet), and one that has just been washed off.   They really do wash off incredibly easily; a quick wipe with a wet sponge removes even things like stuck-on melted chocolate and solidified, melted sugar.  Now, one should be aware the mats do stain, especially if one is cooking with colorful ingredients like pumpkin and cranberries, but apparently all brands of this sort of product are subject to this sort of staining, and it doesn't impact the performance of the mats in the least.

I'm getting great results from these, and given how little they cost, I consider them a great buy.

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