My stand mixer is a hand-me-down, the result of some friends moving across the country in a way that meant leaving the big stuff behind. They sold their couch and coffee table, found a new home for their nightstand, and then turned their attention to the kitchen. The large appliances would have to go, and the first item on the chopping block was a matte white 5-quart KitchenAid.
I’d never been able to justify the expense and physical footprint of a free-standing mixer before, but when I saw the chance to cop a used version in good condition for a fraction of the normal price (and think of my friends every time I’d make cookies), I jumped at it. It felt like a watershed moment in my early adulthood and a little like adopting a dog; the night before I picked it up, I anxiously reorganized my entire kitchen, making what I hoped was ample space for the newcomer in an accessible location near an outlet and dreaming about what I’d bake first. The next day the mixer fit perfectly, and I nestled the four attachments I’d received right inside the mixing bowl: the standard paddle, whisk, and dough hook, plus a second paddle the likes of which I’d never seen, white with a dark gray silicone edge, clearly engineered to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Despite using the mixer and other three attachments on a regular basis, the new-to-me KitchenAid paddle scraper sat untouched for years—literal years!—before I ever put it to work, in large part because I am a snob. Recipes always say to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula, I told myself. I am not afraid of a little effort! I don’t need this gimmicky tool to do my scraping for me! I am the master of my own destiny.
You can see where this is going. At the peak of my quarantine baking spell, I finally gave in and tried the tool. The tool is great. I am an idiot. I’m writing this post (and texting my friend yet another thank you) as penance.
The KitchenAid paddle scraper attachment is exactly what it sounds like: a version of the iconic standing mixer’s metal paddle with a flexible wing on one side that scrapes down the sides of the bowl with each revolution. Built for 5-quart mixers with a tilting head (not the lifting/lowering variety), it can be used in any recipe that calls for the standard flat paddle and provide the same speed and efficiency—with the added benefit of the scraper edge. Whether you’re creaming butter and sugar together or drizzling milk into a thick batter, it’s built for the task; at $20, it’s a sensible add-on for an avid home baker.
To be fair, using a paddle scraper attachment has not totally eliminated my need to stop the machine and scrape with a spatula. When mixing up a layer cake or double-batch of buttercream frosting, I still need to put in some manual effort to make sure everything is incorporated. But the paddle scraper does a big portion of the work for me, leaving just an errant streak or two of flour to rescue rather than a bunch all the way around the bowl. Also, some stiffer cookie dough recipes and smaller-volume baking projects don’t need an extra hand from me at all; the attachment is able to scrape every last crumb into the center of the bowl. After a little trial and error to find its best-use cases, I know exactly when to pull out my paddle scraper instead of the standard paddle. When I do, I cut back on my total mixing time and make everything a bit more hands-free.
A few online reviews note that with lots of continued use (not unlike a regular silicone spatula), the flexible wing can start to crack. Longtime fans suggest hand-washing your paddle scraper to help prolong its life—even though, technically, it’s dishwasher-safe. I’m not sure I’ll ever advance to the dishwasher-having level of adulthood, but who knows: I lucked into a mixer when I least expected it, and with it a tool that made easy weeknight chocolate chip cookies a reality.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious