Monday, November 12, 2012

As Seen On TV Review: Perfect Tortilla Pan Set

I love infomercials, and I love trying out the "As Seen On TV" products that promise to revolutionize the way we cook/live/relax/groom.

The most recent product I tested was the Perfect Tortilla Pan Set.  It promises a healthier alternative to fried tortilla bowls that you typically see at Mexican restaurants or fast-food chains, allowing you to cook up a healthier, baked version in just 5 minutes at home.  I paid $10.99 for my set at CVS. Inside the box was four stackable, dishwasher-safe pans that store away easily and allow you to bake tortilla bowls in just 5 minutes at home.

On first glance, I was a little disappointed with the contents of the box: just 4 simple metal pans, and a slip of paper with basic cooking instructions. "Basic" is an understatement: across the board, you cook the tortilla bowls at 400 degrees, the only variable is for how many minutes.  I used medium-sized whole grain tortillas, and found the recommended "5 to 7 minutes" left them too flexible, so I put them back in for 10 minutes, as per the "extra crispy" directions.  

The tortilla bowls looked good when they came out of the oven (make sure you wait 5 minutes before you remove them from the bowls, otherwise they tend to crack), but they didn't have the same golden brown, bubbly crispness that you see on the box. Next time, I'm going to try spraying the tortillas on one side with a little butter-flavored Pam to see if that makes any difference, although it doesn't say anything about doing that in the instructions. 

I used the bowls for "Taco Night" at my house, substituting the bowls for the usual hard shell corn tacos. The kids had fun building their own taco bowls, although it was a little tricky to eat. My husband opted for a knife and fork, one daughter ate the ingredients and left the bowl untouched, and my youngest daughter broke it up into pieces, like nachos, making a big ole mess in her plate. I confess, that's what I ended up doing as well. Ultimately, the product worked pretty much as described, although I don't think 5 minutes is enough time to get a sturdy enough bowl to hold your favorite ingredients. It was definitely nice to have a healthier alternative to greasy taco shells, but I found them to be a little chewy once you got the to bottom part of the bowl.  I'm going to experiment with different brands of tortilla as well, to see if that allows for a crispier, thinner bowl.  

When it comes to tacos, if you're looking for neatness, you might want to go the traditional shell route.  I've read online that some outlets sell this set at a higher price point, but include a recipe book or two.  Honestly, you don't need a recipe book.  It isn't exactly rocket science to figure out how to use these bowls--use them the way you would any other bowl, except this one is edible. I would recommend this product as a fun way to serve chili dip, guacamole or salsa at a party. On the cover of the box, they show the bowl being used to hold ice cream. I have seen ready-made crepes at the grocery store, and I could see that working as a sweet alternative, so I'll have to give that a try, too.


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