I use a Corning combo stiplate/hotplate, and I have found it works great for making starters. I typically make larger starters too - some even as large as 4000 mL. I typically bring my dechlorinated water to a boil in a pot on the stove, add the DME to my 5000-mL flask and add the boiling water to the flask. Then I allow the hotplate to bring the mixture to a boil, using the stir function to mix.
I also typically use an antifoam agent. After cooling - which I do by submerging the flask in an ice bath - I place the flask back on the plate for stirring. I have never had any difficulties with the combo plate still being too hot to put the flask on it. I have enjoyed making starters this way.