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Food Processor Smackdown: David vs. Goliath

As many of you may know, I am getting ready to make candies this week. Making some 50 plus pounds of candy takes thoughtful planning. Items such as packaging, wax paper, cellophane, ribbon, chocolate, sugar, corn syrup, almonds and other less perishable goods can be purchased several weeks or more in advance. I time my candymaking marathon carefully to allow any candies that I will be shipping to reach their recipients by Christmas. Therefore, I should start making candies around December 13th and finish no later than one week before Christmas.

All of my non-perishable supplies are on hand by the end of November, which leaves a rather quiet first week and a half of December to do other holiday activities like decorating, shopping and celebrating my birthday. As the candymaking window looms closer, I do one of the few ingredient-related processing tasks that can be done in advance—the chopping of nine to ten pounds of roasted, unsalted almonds for the English Toffee. Yes, you can buy chopped almonds, but I don’t think they smell or taste the same. If you still buy your coffee beans pre-ground in a can, then you should buy your chopped almonds at the store; you won’t notice the difference.

For ten years I have been using a mini food processor to do the almond chopping, mainly because that is all we had and it worked. When my wife and I were engaged, we registered for a Cuisinart food processor. Every cooking show seems to showcase one as much as a KitchenAid, so we should have one, too, right? Ten years later and we almost never use it—maybe once a year, I would guess. My wife would ask me why I used the little food processor when chopping almonds and I would mumble some theory I had regarding the smaller machine.

Testing the hypothesis
My theory has always been that the larger food processor will produce more almond flour—dust essentially. I first started sifting my chopped almonds with a sieve after my third or fourth batch of English Toffee. I had some scorching and smoking on one batch and attributed it to the fine almond flour from the chopped almonds. The finished toffee, dipped in chocolate and rolled in almonds, also had a nicer appearance since there were fewer crumbs adhering to the chocolate. Sifting takes time (I don’t have a machine that does this—yet!) and the less I have to do the better.

An entire pound of almonds easily fits in the larger food processor.

The mini food processor required six grinding runs for one pound of almonds.

Sift the chopped almonds to remove the almond flour.

3 1/4 ounces of flour resulted from using larger food processor for one pound of almonds.

2 3/4 ounces of flour resulted from using mini food processor for one pound of almonds.

Almonds chopped in mini food processor (right) yielded more consistently sized bits than the standard sized food processor.

Conclusion: Goliath food processor yielded less chopped almonds by mass.
The almond pieces’ size range as produced by the larger food processor was not to my liking, though some may want more varied sizes for their toffee. I would have preferred to continue pulsing the processor to reduce the larger pieces further, which would have resulted in still more of the unwanted almond flour. The larger capacity machine was faster at chopping one pound, however, though some of the time saved would probably be lost to added sifting. The bottom line is that if you don’t have a mini food processor, you don’t really need to run out and buy one. I finished off the remaining 7 pounds of almonds with the mini processor. I’m just picky about the consistency and want to keep sifting to a minimum.

  • This is a great post. I never thought there was much of a difference but there you go. I have one of each also and now think these two nearly identical machines have two very separate uses.

    Very nice site, I’m looking forward to more posts.

  • Thanks Paul! I wasn’t sure I could make anything decent for a post from chopping almonds, but I guess it turned out ok.