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Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB Prep Plus 11 vs FP-12DC Elite 12-Cup
on March 22, 2012
I purchased both the FP-12DC Elite 12-Cup and the DLC-2011CHB Prep Plus 11 Cup. I did this because Consumer Reports rated the DLC-2011CHB Prep Plus 11 very highly (it is currently their second highest rated processor), but did not rate the FP-12DC Elite 12-Cup at all. I was interested in many of the features of the Elite 12, but not at the cost of functionality. Having tested the machines for a week now, I can say that I am pleasantly surprised and quite taken with the FP-12DC Elite 12-Cup processor.
While there is little information from Cuisinart regarding motor in the Prep Plus, I believe it to be the same as that in the Elite. Other places have said the Prep Plus has a 768 watt induction motor, and the Elite box states it has a 1000 max watt induction motor. In addition, the motor warranty on both is the same 10 years. They also sound very similar. They are both quiet, with the Elite perhaps edging the Prep Plus here, only because the base is bigger and is able to muffle the noise a bit better. This is not by any means scientific, but they are at least very similar motors and have avery similar amount of power.
The major difference between these two motors is that the Prep Plus has a dough feature and the Elite 12 does not. This does not mean the the Elite is incapable of dough. It is and it is heavily marketed for it in the sales materials and the included recipes. In fact the Dough button on the Prep Plus (and others including the Elite 14 cup) seems to be largely about product differentiation, or at the very least, it has limited utility. It is supposed to slow the motor so that the dough mixes better. In my testing though, it did not slow the motor significantly, and certainly slowed it less than the actual dough did. I also think a stand mixer does a much better job for this purpose. Having said that if you have limited space, both machines will happily punch up a dough for you.
I also did not like the buttons on the Prep Plus. They are blister buttons with a thin layer of plastic over them. When I was in the store, these buttons had been completely destroyed by all the fingers pressing on them. Surely a food processor at home would see as much wear, but they did not fill me with confidence. the Elite buttons are a similar style of button, but they seem to have a thin layer of metal covering the button. It seems like a more durable system.
The Work Bowls:
The Prep Plus has a Lexan bowl, the Elite has one made of Polycarbonate. Lexan is a very light weight plastic, but it is also somewhat flexible. This gives the impression that the Elite polycarbonate bowl is sturdier, and would last longer. Whether or not that is actually the case is difficult to say. In any case the Prep Plus bowl is undoubtedly lighter, so if you are an elderly person, or have some other infirmity, the Lexan will be better for you.
Both Elite bowls have a pouring spout, the prep plus does not. That's right, the Elite 12 comes with two nesting bowls. The Prep Plus comes only with one standard 11 cup work bowl.
The Elite bowls utilize the Sealtight lid, the Prep Plus uses a standard lid. Some have complained the Sealtight lid is hard to clean, but I have not found that to be the case. A rinse with the sink sprayer, and a run through the dishwasher (top rack) is all that I needed to get either of the work bowls and lids clean. The Sealtight lid does take some downward force to close, but I found it needed no more pressure than the Prep Plus bowl required laterally (sideways). In fact I found the Prep Plus bowl was inferior in use, in almost every way. The Elite bowl can be removed by twisting it left and lifting it from the motor with the lid still closed. The Prep Plus bowl, however, must have it's lid loosened before you are able to remove the work bowl from the base. In practice this is a real pain. I also found the button release of the Sealtight lid to be much more agreeable than the twisting function of the Pre Plus.
The Prep Plus has a widemouth plunger opening, and so does the Elite. Oddly, though the Prep Plus opening is very slightly wider, because of the way the slicing and shredding blades mount on that machine, it is a solid inch more shallow. This means you will be doing more chopping before you can get your food processor to do your slicing. In my tests with carrots, it meant four fewer cuts over 5 total carrots. Not a huge difference, but if you were going to do a lot of slicing - making pickles or the like - it would mean quite a bit more prep work.
The smaller plunger on the Prep Plus is a circular one, that can lock inside the larger plunger. The Elite has a wider elongated small plunger that does not lock. At first I thought this was a falling of the Elite, but in reality the extra real estate in the smaller opening is appreciated, and the need for a locking smaller plunger in negated by the fact that you have to press down on it as well as the larger plunger when using the large opening. The only real failure I saw in the Elite plunger system, was that it was missing some drainage holes that the Prep Plus version had, and these cause the plunger to collect water in the dishwasher.
This is where the Elite comes out head and shoulders above the Prep Plus. The Elite slicing blade is adjustable, creating 6 different widths for slicing 1mm to 6mm. While I can't imagine a circumstance where you would use a 1mm blade - since the power and speed of the machine would render whatever you were slicing into mush - the rest of the widths are very usable and make very good even slices. The slicing blade on the Prep Plus, on the other hand, is fixed. In addition, because the slicing and shredding blades have a smaller circumference, they do not cut as well. - more about this for the shredding disk.
I have read people complain that food falls through the finger holes in the Elite disks. This did happen some for me, but over all the slices were far superior with the Elite blade. So much so that fully a third of the Prep Plus slices were uneven, where only 8 slices did not pass muster in the Elite machine (out of about 1.5 and 2 cups respectively). That included one piece that must have gotten through the finger holes. To be sure the finger holes are an unfortunate design decision. They are completely unnecessary given that the hubs provide a more than adequate place to grip the blades without cutting yourself. However, I found that their impact, when the machine was used as directed, was negligible.
The shredding disks were another place for the Elite machine to shine when compared to the Prep Plus. Both disks for the Prep Plus are an inch smaller in circumference. This combined with the odd design of the shredding ridges on the Prep Plus blade gave wholly uneven shreds. Some were very short at around 1/4 inch, some quite long at 1.5 inches. I can't think of a situation where this would be desirable. Even and long shreds should be a no brainer, and the Prep Plus blade can not deliver. When I first looked at the Prep Plus shredding disk, I wondered if it wasn't trying to accommodate the small blade circumference, but even if it is, it's a design that is faulty.
The chopping blades were much closer in performance. Both produced an even, fine mince, with a slight edge going to the Elite design. It took two additional pulses to get the same evenness and size in the Prep Plus. Not a deal breaker to be sure, but when you put that together with a far more functional slicing disk, and far better shredding performance, the choice is becoming clear.
Additionally the Elite chopping blade has a locking blade design, that allows for both more liquid in the work bowl, and for pouring the processed food out without losing your blade into the receptical, splashing food everywhere. This is a far better feature than all of the others combined. The Elite is a food processor that could legitimately be used for making smoothies, or milk shakes, because it can actually hold liquid.
So in the end I can confidently say that while both machines are very good, the FP-12DC Elite 12-Cup processor is the winner hands down, and the Prep Plus will be going back from whence it came.