People use electric mini-whisks, commonly called a Frothing Wand, to “froth” milk for their morning coffee. I have owned one for 15 – 20 years but really only use it for a couple of tasks around the kitchen. However the frothing wand is a good little tool for any kitchen.
What is a Frothing Wand?
The frothing wand is nothing more than a small battery operated immersion blender. They have a motor and battery container enclosed in plastic or stainless steel shell, with a power button and a metal rod coming out the bottom with a coil whisk at the end. Push the button and the whisk spins rapidly and moves back and forth slightly.
Frothing Wand Uses:
As I mentioned above the number one reason people buy a frothing wand is to froth heated milk for their coffee. Rather than buy a full functioning espresso machine, which would include a steam-based frothing wand, many people opt for a less expensive single serve espresso machine, like Nespresso, Francis Francis X7 or CaffItaly (CBTL in America) and then buy a frothing wand. They simply heat the milk in a microwave or saucepan until it reaches the correct temperature (you can froth in a temperature range from 130 – 155 degrees) then stick the wand into the milk and create foamed milk. This combination of single serve espresso machine and frothing wand can save you at least a couple hundred dollars over a traditional espresso machine. In addition, the convenience and ease of use the single serve coffee machines eliminates the learning curve with a traditional espresso machine, so the appeal is understandable.
In my experiments with milk frothing using a frothing wand, I found the process as simple as you would expect. The learning curve would be knowing how long to keep the milk in the microwave or saucepan to reach proper temperature, which becomes second nature over time. You then submerge the whisk part of the frothing wand completely under the milk, unless you like making a big mess, and turn the frother on. I like to start slow, as one model allows, or pulse as others allow, to get the volume started. After a few seconds I turn the speed up to full and bring the whisk to just under the surface of the milk for maximum foam volume.
I found the foam made by this method is more meringue-like than is created using a steam based method. The other drawback is that the air infused into the milk will not last. In fact the dissipating air foam will sound like Rice Crispies cereal in milk. I guess this is why people create so much foam, as you drink the coffee and the foam dissipates you still have some in your cup by the time you are done. I also felt the foam and milk did not emulsify together as well as happens with a traditional steamed based frothing.
In the end, you can still create a cappuccino that is at least as good as most quick serve chains and probably even better, as you control the coffee and milk.
Another use for these wands is my main use for them: whipping cream. I find that the size and power are perfect for creating fast homemade whipped cream. In a test I did with the various models, all were able to whip 1/4 cup of cream into medium peaks in under 20 seconds. Having said this, I rarely whip more than 1/2 to 1 cup of cream at a time; the more cream you attempt to whip, the longer it will take to get the consistency you are seeking. But be careful, even with a frothing wand you can over-whip or break the cream quite easily. For cream amounts above a cup you may want to switch to a hand mixer, immersion blender or stand mixer.
Salad Dressing & Sauces
The other really useful function these wands can provide is in creating salad dressing or other sauces. Rather than whisk using “elbow grease” you can very quickly make healthy, wholesome dressings for a fraction of the cost. I would recommend using a tall container rather than a bowl for mixing dressings with your frothing wand. The reason being that the high walls will eliminate splatter in the initial mixing stages and help get a better emulsification as you continue.
This is such a good use of these wands that at least one company has created a device combining a frothing wand and cylinder canister specifically for creating salad dressings.
But this emulsifying ability is not limited to salad or vegetable flavoring; you can use the wand to create a better emulsification on BBQ and basting sauces.
While these wands can whip some air into one or two eggs, the density and texture of eggs can be too great to achieve good volume. All the frothing wands felt like they were bogging down in the egg mass. Better to use a hand or immersion blender or old fashion elbow grease. I did attempt some egg-speriments and the time to good foamy eggs was shorter simply using a regular whisk in hand.
Frothing Wand Models
Each frother wand passed all the tests I ran. All frothed the milk, whipped the cream and mixed the dressing, but AeroLatte and Rosle were clearly the most powerful and fastest and created the best end product. The value priced BonJour model left some sugar crystals unmixed in one whipping cream test. When you compare the 2 battery models, AeroLatte and BonJour, the Aerolatte clearly generates more power based on its design. The Rosle uses 2 AAA batteries to generate its amazing power. If I were forced to choose, I would lean slightly toward the Rosle over the Aerolatte but they are very close 1 and 1A. You can’t go wrong with either model for power and durability. That said, the BonJour models still accomplished every task even if it took a bit more time. As an aside, I have owned a BonJour model for over 15 years.
The most widely available and well know brand is AeroLatte. In fact, Aerolatte pioneered this line of products. They are well built, generate great power from 2 AA batteries and have a pulse function as well as a locked, always on position. At $19.99, available in fun colors and styles, they are the best overall option. The Aerolatte also comes in a stainless steel model ($30) and brushed aluminum ($23).
The German kitchen tool maker, Rosle, has entered the market with a product that is equal to Aerolatte is many ways. It derives great power from two AAA batteries. It comes with a hanging ring for open kitchen storage, a signature of Rosle tools. It is manufactured from 18/10 stainless steel and has two power settings located centrally on the main body. I really like this 2 speed function, which can be used as a pulse function by switching from the on position to the off position from either the high or low setting. However I can see where some people would not like the switch function for pulsing. While it retails for $24.99, the stainless steel construction and 2 speed control would make up for the slightly higher cost, although the AeroLatte stainless version is even more costly.
BonJour is the value price option for frothing wands. They offer a couple of different price points. Their 19.99 model is the competitor for AeroLatte and Rosle, but has some flaws. The top piece of the main body is difficult to take off and put on when changing the batteries.
They also offer a rechargeable model, which is probably the most reliable model they make, but I have never been a big fan of rechargeable kitchen tools. The base needs to be plugged in somewhere and the wand left in the charger which takes up counter space, I personally don’t have room to spare. Also all rechargeable products will fade with time, holding less charge each time until ultimately it fails.
BonJour makes a 9.99 “mini” model which is very lean, light and functional, but has the highest failure rate and weakest motor of the bunch. If you don’t use the frother often but just want to have one around, then this might be for you.