Looking for a quick, safe way to heat up dorm room chow? Consider Fagor’s portable “cooktop,” aka hot plate. This sleek, black slab of gorgeousness sports a Eurokera glass surface, a temperature range of 190 to 430 degrees and stokes your edibles with all the strange wonders of induction heating.
In contrast to their gas or electric relatives, induction cooktops use induction coils. When switched on, said coils emit their own magnetic fields, which in turn produce a warming reaction directly on the surface of whatever steel or iron-based pots and pans you place on top of them. Not only does this provide unbelievably zippy heating — not to mention an eerie whrrrrrrrr sound — it’s also virtually accident proof. You can actually place your hand directly on the heating surface while cooking without feeling anything more than a slight warming sensation.
The cooktop brought three cups of water to a full and violent boil almost twice as fast (in just over four minutes) as our gas stove. You’ll also get five power levels to choose from, depending on whether you want to slow melt some chocolate or sauté the hell out of a bag of shrimp.
For all its speed, however, this induction cooker isn’t quite perfect. First, with no visible flame or glowing red coils, fine-tuning the heat levels is a tad tricky, particularly on the lower power settings. And despite the company’s claim of even and precise heating, there was a very discernible hot spot in the middle of our test pans.
The controls are another downside to Fagor’s flashy cooker. While they are touch-sensitive they also require a good amount of force and precise finger placement to activate. That’s a safety feature, according to the company, but it was still frustrating.
But our biggest gripe with this cooktop actually is compatibility. Induction requires iron or steel cookware: If a magnet won’t stick to it, you can’t use it. That rules out anything made out of copper, glass or aluminum, but also some stainless steel blends, like our cheap Ikea kitchenware. The unit emits a horrendous beeping sound whenever it doesn’t “recognize” the cookware placed on top of it. After five minutes of cycling through a cabinet of cookware, we were ready to start hurling pans at the stove, not placing them on top of it.
All grumbles aside, this induction cooker should still please anyone who craves quick and precise heating. There’s definitely a learning curve, but the speed and utility of induction cooking make this magnetic cooktop hard to, uh, resist.